Her propensity for STEM subjects was apparent from an early age: Alexandra Janssen was interested in math beginning in the third grade. And she has consistently built upon her inclination – throughout her education to date.
The 20-year-old is now completing a cooperative study program in business information systems at Deutsche Telekom. Alexandra Janssen knows exactly what she wants. To reach her goal, she has more or less skipped over obstacles or consistently corrected decisions that had already been made. "I always thought it was great to be challenged," says Janssen. During her years at school, she took part in mathematics competitions. It seemed only logical then that she should take advanced courses in mathematics and chemistry. She shortened her schooling by skipping two grades. In 2012, the year she did her school leaving exam, the question arose as to what she should study. "I wanted to do something with logic," she says.
"That's what convinced me"
To ensure that she would make the right choice, she took the so-called Geva test. This includes proficiency and intelligence-based tests aimed at making it easier to choose a course of study. The results suggested that she should study either business mathematics (almost 94 percent probability) or business information systems (almost 86 percent). The result was clear, she thought. She opted for business information systems: "The subject seemed more diverse to me. That's what convinced me."
"There was no practical application”There was no practical application"
She studied for two semesters at Cologne University, then she veered in a different direction. "I was missing something. All I was being taught at the university was pure theory; there was no practical application." Alexandra Janssen applied for a cooperative study program. She was accepted by Deutsche Telekom in May 2013 and decided to do the program. She started her degree in business information systems at Deutsche Telekom's own University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig (HfTL).
Basics of programming
The complete program lasts six and a half semesters; in the last three months students write their bachelor thesis and can complete the bachelor degree. If desired, students can also move up the bachelor thesis and write it during their studies. Alexandra Janssen: "And that's what I plan to do". Total working time is 38 hours a week, 35 hours of which are spent working at the company. Three e-learning units or so are planned per week. During the training center phase, which takes one to two weeks per semester, students can spend a whole week exclusively on the study program and studying right before exams.
Janssen says that many of the lecture topics come from computer science (software engineering, communication networks) or business, including business administration, economics, accounting and marketing. These subjects teach the fundamentals. In addition, the basics of programming languages are taught. Other content includes the basics of business information systems and project management.
Equal treatment of both genders
Of the original 110 students who began the program, 102 students still remain, says Janssen. They are spread out throughout Germany at 33 training centers. They are assigned based on their place of work. In Bonn, the location of the Headquarters, there are 26 students, including two women. Alexandra Janssen sees no advantages or disadvantages in being a woman studying a STEM subject. "It makes no difference for me. Nor do I think that there are any disadvantages being a woman." At the beginning of the program, there was a communication workshop for women only, entitled "Clear words. Confident appearance." The seminar addressed the different styles of communication between men and women and conveyed information on communication. Her experience to date is that Deutsche Telekom supports equal treatment of both genders.
“It's all in the mix”
Janssen has experienced a wide range of fields within DeutscheTelekom. This has given her insights into diverse business areas, from marketing and wholesale business to product launches. Her assignments have made it clear to her: "I enjoy working in project management and playing an active role there."
In the future she can see herself managing healthcare systems. During her foreign assignment in Luxembourg, she gathered some related experience. Working with T-Systems Luxembourg, she got acquainted with and assisted in supporting the IT infrastructure of a bank. Summing up, she says that this cooperative study program is really inspiring, especially with its diverse content. It's all in the mix. It's not just about economics or computer science – and that's exactly what keeps the study program, with its practical experience, so exciting and interesting.