A misconception about your studies can harm you when applying

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Even at school, teachers and parents told us: Get good grades and you’ll be successful.

We crammed the learning material through to get our Abitur. Some of us did it in 13 years, others in 12 years. We didn’t keep much of it. But that doesn’t matter, because we are finally ready to take the next step in our academic career: studying.

Now it is again: do not waste any time – after all, a quick conclusion is worth striving for. Just don’t hang around another semester, after all, a degree that is completed quickly is a sign of good performance, hard work and productivity. This gives us a clear advantage when applying. At least that’s the impression many young people have these days.

Bernd Schmitz, Head of Personnel Marketing at Bayer, has a different opinion. In an interview with, he explains why he doesn’t hire anyone who has raced through their studies without gaining practical experience and which factors are used instead to assess applicants at Bayer.

A misconception that ruins application opportunities

Bernd Schmitz Bayer
Bernd Schmitz.

“There is a misconception, especially among people who do a university degree and then want to go into industry,” says Schmitz. “You have the crazy idea that you should study as quickly and as quickly as possible and very often use it as an argument that they didn’t have time for internships. “

Much more important, however, is to have had relevant practical experience in a company. It doesn’t matter whether this took place during your studies, during a break in your studies or during a semester on leave.

Hiring someone permanently who has no practical experience would be out of the question for Schmitz. “When I have a candidate for a position, no matter in which area, who did his G8 Abi and then quickly pushed through the Bachelor and never had any practical experience I can use it more as a trainee, but it is not yet fully operational. He doesn’t even know what it’s like to work. That does not work.”

The fear of being too old for the job market

Since the Bologna Process started at European level in 1999, a lot has changed. Among other things, Magister and Diplom degrees have been replaced by the Bachelor (six semesters), to which students can add a Master (four semesters). The aim of the reform was to create a common European higher education area – and to enable an earlier career entry.

The fear of being too old for the job market has since burned itself into the minds of many young people. Critics of the reform suspect that the initiation of the Bologna Process was less about the career opportunities of the graduates and more about financial calculations. “Today, universities are usually driven by state funding,” says Schmitz. “The new students are a means of finance, and if the students in the sixth semester are not finished in the standard study time at the back, they cannot push the front.” For universities this is a financial challenge. “That is why many preach: You have to study quickly so that you can get a job quickly. Unfortunately, this is a misconception and politicians are doing too little to clear it up. “

Bernhard Kempen, President of the German Association of Universities, also believes that the shortening of study times was not about increasing student opportunities. He told the student magazine “Zeit Campus” that there was at least a suspicion that students were being pushed to graduate in order to save money. “Otherwise the (former) Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan would not have had to admonish the economy to hire more Bachelor graduates.”

For Schmitz, the elucidation of this misconception is a matter of the heart. In addition to his work at Bayer, he advocates the need for practical experience in the Federal Association for Employer Branding, Personnel Marketing and Recruiting. In 2013, the association launched the “Courage to Practice” initiative. “It should communicate exactly what the Bologna reform has violated.”

Applying to Bayer: That really matters

Practical experience is one of the essential components of “employability” at Bayer – a buzzword that companies use to describe how employable an applicant is. In the pharmaceutical and chemical group, employability consists of four pillars that are based on academic training, explains Schmitz. Here you are:

1. Internships: “Fortunately, there are now courses that offer a compulsory internship. As a rule, however, it is only the universities of applied sciences that do it, ”says Schmitz. “And there are too few.”

2. Methodological skills: Methodological skills include soft skills such as communication or presentation. “These are things that you don’t necessarily learn in your studies. They can also be acquired outside of the university. “

3. Internationality: “For companies like Bayer with branches in 73 countries and in all markets, someone who has studied abroad or done an internship and has gained intercultural and linguistic experience naturally has an advantage.”

4. Social responsibility: Social responsibility also plays a major role at Bayer. “Whether scout leader or volunteer work in a nursing home it is important that people fit in with the company’s social fit. “

So these are the four most important factors that people who are interested in a job at Bayer have to meet. “Fast-track studies alone are not enough for this employability,” says Schmitz.

Also read: “Application: You can score points in the interview with these psychological tricks”

If you’re currently cramming for college while your friends are already going to the office, you shouldn’t worry too much. If you make good use of your study time, it will help you when looking for a job.

Would you like to find out more about application? Here we have summarized the most important tips about the job interview.

This article was published by in December 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.


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