Finding a part-time job in Stuttgart

Finding a part-time job in Stuttgart

Source: pixabay.com

Time, money and happiness seem to be the most ‘run after’ things in a modern human being’s life in the pursuit of finding ‘the balance’. For a typical millennial, it’s quite often the case that the hold is only on 2 of the 3 and sometimes, lesser. While a balance amongst these 3 could be the goal of a professional, for a student, the proposition is quite clear, we have time and happiness but not big money. To make both ends meet and to fund that thrifty trip, we usually have to look for a part-time job. The part-time job not only helps us make that most needed money but also lets us peek into the work culture of a country. If one is fortunate to find a job that aligns with the career goals, that turns out to be a win-win situation. Or, on the other hand, if one turns out to be even more fortunate if one of his hobbies turns out to make money.

In a place like Stuttgart, which is quite industrial, you have umpteen opportunities as a student. All you need are open eyes and ears and willingness to work after having found one. Having fervently been on the hunt for part-time jobs in the Stuttgart region for the past two years and having successfully found a few, I share my insights on how exactly to knock on the right door. Let’s get straight away to the nitty-gritty of finding a part-time job.

The notice boards

Source: pixabay.com

These are one of the best ways to find a job. Especially, in a place like a university campus, where there are hundreds of notice boards and are usually filled with flyers. A decent share of them turn out to be a job offer and mostly part-time ones. Keep your eyes open for the ‘stellenangebote’ which means job offers and keep applying with all intent if some advertisement catches your attention. If you are willing to work in one of the institutes in the university, go to the institute notice board and you are sure to find some offers. Furthermore, do you play some instrument or are you very good at some other art skill or possible some sport or yoga, there are very good chances that you find advertisements from people looking for some help with their learning or projects. Besides, you could also post an ad and if fortunate, you may find your skill making money for you sooner than you expect.

The websites

The list of websites offering jobs are innumerable and in an area like Stuttgart which is home to many world leading companies, the chances are just perpetual. All you have to do is look for the right website and use the appropriate keywords. The Stellenwerk-Stuttgart website is the place to look for student jobs associated with the University of Stuttgart and also those in the region of Stuttgart. As well, other websites like Jobmensa and Indeed can come in handy if you are looking to work in some companies in the region to get more practical exposure. Another interesting approach I found from a YouTuber is to look for your job focus area on google maps which returns you the list of all companies working in the same field as yours. Make a list of the companies, and check their websites for jobs and get applying. A clever way could be to bookmark all the web pages offering relevant jobs and to open all of them every day to check for updates. I do this and trust me, this really works.

Source: pixabay.com

Outside the campus and web

Stuttgart is a very lively city and who makes it lively? Undoubtedly, the people who work here. And that certainly means that you could also be one of those. There are tons of opportunities to work as a part-time worker in the cafes, restaurants, and bars around the city. Usually, they post a flyer on their windows if there are vacancies. Just knock their doors and speak to the manager. Who knows, you may come back with an offer.

Another hotspot for part-time jobs are cloth outlets in the city who usually employ students to work in their shops. These shops usually tend to recruit through agents like Dispo, Dr.Stern, and DK. Apply to these agencies and whenever there are jobs, they get back to you with offers. Since they have alliances with different industries, they usually get back to you pretty quickly. If they don’t keep knocking. Not to forget, one of the favorites of students in Stuttgart. Food-delivery is yet another hot-spots for part-timers in Stuttgart. Since the delivery usually is on bikes, make sure you have a bike with you and skills to ride safe in the city. Nevertheless, with a local driving license, you can also choose to deliver food on cars and motor-bikes. Makes it easy.

Institutes and Industries

Source: pixabay.com

I opine on this being the best-case scenario as we get to understand either the industry practices or the research trends in the industry most appropriate to us. Stuttgart is a gifted city in this case as there are world-leading industries like Bosch, Daimler, and Porsche to name a few. If you are planning to get into the industry after your studies, there is no better exposure than this. There are usually a lot of vacancies in these organizations and they often look for students to support some activities. Stuttgart is as well home to many leading research institutes like Fraunhofer, Max-Planck, and DLR. Being strategically located in and around the Vaihingen campus, they often have some appealing offers for the students in some interesting research projects. The institutes in the university which carry out research could also have some exciting prospects in case you have the skills they are looking for. Lookout for their websites or just knock the door and drop your CV with them.

Wrapping up, I have a hunch that if you want to work part-time in Stuttgart, the opportunities are a lot, especially for students. But, the question is, how badly do you want it. Legally, a non-European student can work for a maximum of 20 hours during semesters and it changes during semester breaks. Which is quite enough to manage your expenses. Make sure you strike the right balance between work and studies. Break a leg.

 

Saleem

Digital Jobs in Stuttgart

Digital Jobs in Stuttgart

Copyright: Armin Staudt-Berlin / photocase.de

Digital jobs have been created in numerous branches over the last two decades. In the Stuttgart region, digital experts have a particularly high chance of finding a digital job, simply due to the fact that so many innovative companies who have established themselves in this region.

Digitalization is changing the working world. Digital technologies have become an established part of almost all areas of work. Leading technology companies are currently converting their processes to use Industry 4.0 and The Internet of Things. The Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitcom e. V.) estimates that currently over one million people are employed in this branch alone – and the number is increasing. The IT branch is the most important driver of growth. Bitcom president Thorsten Dirks announced before the Cebit 2017 that his organization expects considerable revenue growth by the end of the year and the creation of at least 21,000 new jobs.

Companies suffering from a Shortage of Skilled IT Experts

The current digitalization trend has also resulted in an increase in demand for specialists in the IT industry. At the end of 2016, there were approximately 51,000 job vacancies in digital branches across Germany; this is an increase of 19 percent in comparison to the previous year. Many companies are desperately seeking IT talent. The spectrum of jobs on offer includes everything from development or product engineering with digital expertise, to software engineering and data privacy specialists, all the way to communication and marketing experts who are also specialized in digital work processes.

Stuttgart – a Paradise for Digital Talent

A surprisingly large number of innovative companies have settled in Stuttgart – the capitol of the Baden-Württemberg. The area is also home to numerous established industrial firms, who have completed their transformation to high-tech companies over the last few decades. These companies desperately need digital experts, and members of this highly sought after group enjoy a wide range of exciting opportunities on the job market:

–              Stuttgart is one of the most important IT locations in Germany, and not only large international companies such as IBM, Alcatel-Lucent and Hewlett-Packard are located here, but also numerous start-ups and specialist suppliers.

–              Daimler-Benz is the traditional industrial heart of the city, and vehicle manufacturers are of course continuously searching for employees who can bring fresh technological knowledge and digital know-how to the company. For example, Daimler-Benz is currently a pioneer in technological development in the field of autonomous and connected driving.

–              Companies specializing in mechanical engineering and production technology need IT specialists who also bundle their innovation projects via the company Verein Manufuture BW e. V.

–              Everlab is the region’s innovation laboratory for the publishing industry. Companies from the media industry, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association and the Stuttgart Media University are all involved in Everlab projects.

Job Tweets from Companies in Stuttgart – These are Particularly Exciting for Digital Experts

Digital experts looking for a job in the city or in the wider region will have no trouble finding one. For anyone looking for work in the digital sector, it is not only worth researching on job portals such as Stellenwerk Stuttgart , but also on social media sites. Twitter is particularly well suited to this. This social networking site has become an important tool for those looking for work over the last few years, particularly in the IT and creative sectors – advertising exciting and current job offers daily.

Copyright: simonthon.com / photocase.de

Job tweets from companies in Stuttgart are often the first step on the way to finding a job in the digital sector with interesting assignments and excellent career prospects. Digital workers can test out Exempel, entering the hashtag #digitaljobs Stuttgart or similar search criteria on the Twitter page.

For anyone who wants an overview of classic job offers on the social media channels, it is worth looking at the portal zutun.de. Here you can find an overview of classic job offers and job tweets in Stuttgart.

Business Start-ups at the University of Stuttgart

Business Start-ups at the University of Stuttgart

Edith Schmitt will be representing the TTI at the event ‘Stuttgart Start-Ups’.

The University of Stuttgart supports smart people with new ideas. Any students, employees or members of the alumni who would like to start a business will receive support from the Technology Transfer Initiative. Long-serving employee Edith Schmidt will explain exactly how that works at the event ‘Stuttgart Start-Ups’.

The process begins with a consultation meeting. During this meeting the future company founder explains the main idea behind the implementation of the company. An elaborate concept can be helpful here, but is not absolutely necessary. The business plan can then be put together or reworked with help from employees at the Technology Transfer Initiative (TTI). But what is important for the first step?

Developing a business plan all on your own? The TTI can help.

“Generally, it is advisable to build up a large network”, explains Edith Schmitt. The TTI can help you with this. Via their own events or by establishing contact to support and funding programs, new companies are able to get to know future business partners and gather funding. For example, the TTI has already supported the eMovements startup, which developed the electric walking frame ‘ello’. Not to mention the startup of the company Hybrid-Ariplane GmbH, the owners of which developed the hybrid airplane H-Aero.

 

The mentor model also offers similar help. This involves forging contacts between the startup founders and university professors. “Since the beginning, we have closed over 300 mentor contracts”, says Schmitt. For example, this model can allow the startup founder free use of a laboratory. And closer collaboration is also possible.

Anyone who wants to try out what it is like to start a business can become a project manager, implementing their own ideas under the TTI’s roof and in the context of a Transfer and Startup Enterprise (TGU). “The advantage of this is that you don’t have to actually found your own company”, explains Schmitt. So, you can start a business without actually starting one. The TTI doesn’t just offer consultation about this model, it also takes care of the financial and personnel management and thus creates a good starting point for an aspiring, independent enterprise. According to Schmitt, “there are currently over 50 TGUs”

Left: the hybrid airplane h-aero, right: Schmitt with co-founder Csaba Singer. Image: Dr.-Ing. Csaba Singer

Anyone can start a business, regardless of age or semester. But, the earlier the better, to ensure that you don’t miss any deadlines. But is it even possible to study and start a business at the same time? “Generally speaking, people do tend to underestimate the time needed to establish a startup”, says Schmitt. However, she also pointed out that it is possible to get an idea of what’s involved in a startup by doing freelance work and gathering experience for later. This functions particularly well for TGUs. “We offer support right the way from the basic idea, all the way to marketing and financing”, summarizes Schmitt. But there are, of course, limits, for example, they are unable to provide a personal coach for every new startup. But it is still definitely worth getting in touch. For further information, please visit TTI GmbH homepage.

 

Anna

 

Don’t Want to End up Driving a Taxi?

Don’t Want to End up Driving a Taxi?

Copyright: Maccaroni / photocase.de

Successfully completing a degree in humanities can open the door to various professions. For those not interested in working in research or teaching, or for anyone who wishes to qualify for a diverse range of positions in the private sector it is a good idea to start collecting valuable experience while you are still studying.

Let’s start with the most important tip: don’t wait too long. Even in the first semester you can chose from any number of courses on offer – as soon as you have found your feet and have enough time that is. The later you get started, the less time you will have to try things out. Of course, you main priority at university is to learn and improve your knowledge, but by doing this you will also get to know yourself better, particularly which ways of working and fields of employment interest you the most.

Various courses offered at the University of Stuttgart can help you to expand your interdisciplinary knowledge. A simple and effective way of doing this is taking part in key skills courses; these are normally included in your study plan anyway. As a humanities student, such courses offer you the opportunity to register for subjects that do not necessarily concentrate on humanities subjects. Be bold and register for business or technical seminars.

Learn a new language!

And if you don’t get accepted it is worth going to the first session anyway, because lots of participants don’t turn up, despite confirming their registration, so it is possible that there will be a free space after all. And don’t forget: the key skills courses are not graded, you don’t have to pass, so it’s not a problem to register for something other than your usual subject area.

It’s Fun to Get Involved!

Another way of gaining new skills while at university is to study a foreign language. As well as the usual languages on offer, such as English, Spanish and French, the language center also offers courses that focus on Arabic, Chinese, Esperanto, Dutch, Polish, Swedish or Turkish. A knowledge of different languages might be useful if you want to apply for a job at an international company.

Learning new languages is well worth the effort.

Taking part in university programs can also be a lot of fun. Be a buddy, a mentor or language partner; this also looks good on job applications and shows that you are committed and sociable. Taking part in such programs, helps you not only to get to know other cultures and languages, it also shows that you are willing to take on responsibility and that you have good communication skills. Spending a semester or more abroad demonstrates that you have good organizational skills and are open for new experiences.

Choose Your Master’s Course Wisely

Participating in one of the university’s many groups and organizations can give you valuable skills. Whether you want to join the debate club or promote sustainability, at university you have the opportunity not only to forge new contacts, but also to deepen your knowledge and learn new skills. Getting involved in course-specific groups for your degree program, various working groups at the Students’ Representative Council (stuvus), or join the student parliament. All of these can all have a positive effect on future employers.

Those who want to be even better prepared for the world of work after completing their Bachelor’s degree can also study for a Master’s degree; but make sure you choose your subject wisely. For example, the Master’s degree program Digital Humanities at the University of Stuttgart combines humanities subjects with computer science.

Of course, you can also gain experience and knowledge simply by spending more time in the library, or by having a part-time job at the university. The opportunities are endless and there are lots of chances to get involved in subjects that aren’t directly related to your degree course. Use this opportunity to build up a wealth of interdisciplinary knowledge; this will be of huge benefit in the future.

 

Anna

 

Job interview dos and don’ts   

Job interview dos and don’ts  

 

The job interview: Not only to promote skills, but also to ask questions!
Image: sol-b / photocase.de

Whether it is for an internship, a part-time job or for your first proper job, interviews are a pretty common occurrence for students. But what do you need to watch out for and what are the absolute no-goes?

The nervous wait at the door until you are allowed inside. Who hasn’t experienced that? Most students have already had a number of interviews and are very well versed in this, but others have had barely any experience of this at all. This article is intended to help you gain the confidence to really stand out at your next interview.

 

Dos

  • Info about the job and the company: the be all and end all of perfect preparation is of course to make sure you know a lot about the company. The easiest way to do this is on the internet. What are the company’s current projects and goals? It is also a good idea to know what skills are required for the position because there are bound to be questions about your abilities.
  • Know your own CV: A really good CV shouldn‘t just look good on paper. You will often be asked about your background during the interview, so make sure you know everything you’ve written in your CV so that you can answer questions accurately and explain any gaps if necessary.
  • Practice the most important questions beforehand: Everyone is familiar with those typical questions that come up in every interview: such as, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” To make sure you can answer such questions confidently, it’s a good idea to give them some thought to avoid any uncomfortable silences.
  • Clothes matter: It is important to wear suitable clothes, although what is appropriate does of course vary depending on the job. But it is better to be a bit too smart than not smart enough. This shows that you are taking the interview seriously and that making a good first impression is important to you.
  • Be confident: Being confident is just as important as the right body language. Make sure your posture is correct and avoid appearing arrogant or overconfident.

    Know your own CV

  • Punctuality: It is often said that the Germans are real sticklers for punctuality. So don’t be the first one to break this tradition! If you don’t know exactly where you have to go, find out before the day of the interview. This will also ensure that you don’t get lost on the day and help you to better judge how much time you need to get there. If you arrive all hot and bothered you won’t make a good impression and this will just increase your stress levels.
  • Eye contact: Is extremely important. If you want to clearly show the interviewer that you are paying attention, then make sure to look them in the eye. If there is more than one interviewer then try and look at them all equally, don’t just focus on one.
  • Smile and pay attention: A smile doesn’t just make you look friendly, it also makes the entire situation more relaxed. Particularly at the beginning of the interview.
  • Ask questions: Give some thought to what questions you could ask at the end of the interview. Something that you would like to know about the job, the place of work, the team, training opportunities etc. By asking questions you show initiative and make it clear that you are interested.
  • Politeness: If you are offered something to drink then accept it; that is more polite. Water is never a bad idea and if you get nervous it might help to take a sip of water.

 

 Don’ts

  • Don’t arrive too early: I have already mentioned that punctuality is important; but it is not good to arrive too early. The interviewer might feel under pressure and not have time to prepare properly. This can create a negative atmosphere – which is definitely something you should avoid at all costs.
  • Body language: Crossing your arms, gesticulating wildly, or constantly looking from one person to the next are also types of body language that can come across in a negative way. You are showing that you are unsure and uncomfortable and of course you actually want to communicate exactly the opposite.

    No pocket billiards please!
    Image: rebealk / photocase.de

  • No really long sentences: Long-winded ‘chitchat’ without stopping to take a breath is not a good idea. It is important to get to the point. It is normal to be nervous during a job interview and most people have a tendency to talk without thinking about what they want to say. Try and remember to keep your sentences as concise as possible and most importantly: keep breathing 🙂
  • Inner turmoil: It is common to be nervous during a job interview. Ultimately, it is similar to sitting an exam. But being nervous can be a disadvantage because it clouds your thoughts. One very effective method to help combat nervousness is to change your attitude. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure and don’t let the expectations of others get to you. Accept that the interview is an opportunity, but that you might not get the job.
  • Conversation: It is not a good idea to interrupt the interviewer. This is not only impolite, it is also disrespectful. It is better to pay attention, listen carefully and answer the questions at the correct moment.
  • Lying: Lying won’t get you far. A job interview is an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you better. They already have an idea of what you can do from your written CV. That’s why it is better to make a good impression and not tell tales. People who hold interviews are usually good judges of character and know how to recognize when someone is lying.

 

As you can see, getting through an interview successfully is something that takes some practice. That’s why it can also be helpful to see every job interview (even if you don’t get the job) as a chance to practice. You can then critically assess your performance afterwards: what did you do well? What do you need to watch out for next time? No two interviews are exactly the same, but with a bit of practice they do get easier.

And on that note, good luck!

 

Feven

After uni: When grades are no longer that important

After uni: When grades are no longer that important

Copyright: Gratisography

Grades: Worthless for the hiring procedure? Copyright: Gratisography

A quick look at the list of published grades hanging up in your course department… Do they meet your expectations? Have you messed up your grade point average? The importance of your grades and your own personal grade point average are the be all and end all of a university education – ultimately because they are easy to quantify and allow a direct comparison. 

But what happens after you’ve finished your degree?

The severe shortage of skilled professionals in Germany must seem like a blessing to anyone applying for a job. After all, companies are fighting over skilled professionals and actually writing a resume is almost a thing of the past. At least that’s how recent graduates seem to think it works – but the reality is quite different. Skilled professionals, particularly in the academic sector, are in high demand – but despite this, many still don’t have work.

As Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes in his poem:

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

A halfway decent degree in a sensible subject, a resume without any spelling mistakes and a resume photo of you in a suit or something smart is a guarantee for success, isn’t it? Most job applicants get a sharp reality check at their first job interview, or after they send out their first resumes to suitable companies. You have good grades from university but still no one responds to your resume, or you receive a rejection letter, or you might get invited to an interview but you still don’t get the job. This might come as a big surprise, as big as the misjudgment of the application process. Questions and doubts begin to grow: Aren’t grades important? Doesn’t all that knowledge accumulated during your degree course matter at all? Even though you cited 5 extra sources and finished your degree within the standard study period? So what is missing in the model of the perfect student? We live in a professional society that pays little attention to many skills. Probably mostly because they are so difficult to quantify: empathy, the ability to fit in, creativity, and general social skills – to name but a few.

Copyright: Inspired by "The Skill Gap"

Copyright: Inspired by “The Skill Gap”

In the Bloomberg Recruiter Report, 1320 recruiters from 600 companies were asked what skills they are looking for and why they are so hard to find. This mainly focuses on those who have the master’s degree Master of Business Administration (MBA), but an emerging pattern can nevertheless be observed.

Are grades even important?

To claim that grades are unimportant would not only be absurd, it would also rob every sophisticated argument of its grounds for discussion. Fundamentally, it is important to take into consideration who is being asked – Google or Daimler? Even though all companies nowadays say that they are “innovative” and that they think outside the box, it is really just a few that truly have these characteristics. Above all, these aspects are often not reflected by the company’s choice of applicants.

In an interview with the New York Times Laszlo Bock, Chief of Human at Google, said that grades are “worthless as a criterion for hiring”. In April. Bock repeated this argument at the People Analytics Conference:
“We did a bunch of analysis and found that grades are a little predictive your first two years, but for the rest of your career don’t matter at all.” And Google should know, as a company that has access to enormous amounts of data. It is also worth mentioning that every year over 2 million applicants apply for the coveted positions at the technology giant.
The consulting and advisory company Ernst & Young also want to give applicants without a degree, or those with just an average grade, a chance. An impressive step, when one considers how elite the consultancy branch is.

And that’s why they interview applicants!

A job interview is designed to determine whether you suit the company, its company culture and its team. Why else would the employer be so interested in what you do outside of university? And no I’m not talking about the much-used example of playing in a football club. That argument hardly stands up to scrutiny when one considers that lone wolves are needed on the football pitch in order to score a goal without necessarily playing as part of the team.
Clever and more difficult questions are also asked, and your university education won’t prepare you for these:

„Which do you think has more advertising potential in Boston, a flower shop or a funeral home“ – Google 2015

Companies are interested in your grades, and these are a hurdle and a fictitious gauge, as well as a basic requirement for getting that interview for your dream job.

During the interview, the company wants to determine whether you are a team player or not and whether your personality, combined with your professional skills, suits the job description. Nowadays, every job is interdisciplinary and demands much more than simply being experienced in your field of work. Most students realize this but still fail to work on important aspects of their personality. Does that sound a bit too much like a motivational coach and “go for it” mentality? Maybe, but nevertheless, it is important not to loose sight of the fact that any personal deficits might catch you out later in working life.

I don’t want to sound dramatic, but bad or no interpersonal communication skills have a significant negative impact on your chances of moving up the career ladder. But who wants to hear that? Working on yourself to improve your personality isn’t exactly a high priority. And most people are convinced that this skill comes naturally to them, which often isn’t the case. We have all experienced times at university, where fellow students or “friends” have been unwilling to share course documents, past papers or study notes.
These people are light years away from being team players, and have succumbed to the illusion that this will change later in their working lives. But by then, it’s no longer about final grades or competing against fellow students, but about a promotion or getting a job as a team leader. This “elbow mentality” can of course be useful, but it is good to bear in mind that it can also go against you because it weakens trust and team spirit.

Copyright: Helloquence by Stocksnap

Human relations: Much more important than you think. Copyright: Helloquence by Stocksnap

But this is not a one-sided problem

These problems don’t only create difficulties for the applicant. In the end, companies also miss out on brilliant and passionate employees without enormous development potential – which, in my opinion, all of us have to offer. But on the other hand, lots of people miss out on the chance of securing their dream job because they find interpersonal communication difficult. But you are only able to change things about yourself, and not about your employer; that is, the skills that you bring as an applicant.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, I’m not trying to encourage anyone to go and drink those two leftover bottles of gin from the last house party instead of studying. A completed degree and a good grade are excellent corner stones for getting a job. As Maggie Stilwell from Ernst & Young says of the new company philosophy: “Academic qualifications will remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole.” In the end, your grades are you entrance ticket to the world of work and also an indicator of how well you can work to solve complex problems and if you can apply this knowledge. Otherwise, applicants would probably be given the job without having to attend a job interview, just by being able to convince the human resources team with a few well-formulated sentences in their job application.

Don’t leave it too late

Of course, I am not trying to generalize and apply this to all branches and to every job offer. The different braches and industries are just too varied and the various companies all offer different opportunities. I also don’t want to give the impression that bad or terrible grades coupled with excellent social skills create the perfect applicant.

I would like to give you an incentive to work on yourselves outside of the university context and to concentrate not only on what is directly in front of you, but also on the horizon. And this doesn’t just apply to subject-related topics, but also to your own personal competencies and skills. Even though the examples of Google and Ernst & Young, used above, are just the beginning and are generally considered to be relatively experimental, it is nevertheless worth sparing a thought for what will happen if this new approach to recruitment becomes the norm and that a wealth of different doors might open for you if you adapt your approach accordingly.

Stefan

Social Networks and Addiction – How Dangerous Are They Really?

Social Networks and Addiction – How Dangerous Are They Really?

99 Tage Freiheit - Deine Auszeit von Facebook_4

Students on their mobile phones, messaging friends via WhatsApp or Facebook, or using their laptops to surf the internet: This is typically what happens during lectures or seminars. Whether at uni, at work or privately our lives are becoming increasingly dominated by social networks. But when does this become dangerous?

WhatsApp messages are checked every ten minutes, Facebook every 20 minutes, and a day without social networks is completely unthinkable for a many people. Some even claim that social networks are more dangerous than alcohol. It has also been suggested that students let social networks distract them from life and studying. But is this really the case?

Internationale Soziale Netzwerke. Quelle: Pixabay.com

Soziale Netzwerke sind komplett in unser Leben integriert. Quelle: Pixabay.com

The first Smartphones hit the market in the mid-1990s; although they weren’t as state-of-the-art as they are today. Now you can do almost anything with a mobile phone. It is possible to access the internet using 1000 different apps and we have come to rely on this. But does this mean that we are losing touch with reality? One thing is for sure, social networks are no longer just a distraction; many people are becoming addicted to them. Young people in particular, such as students for example, can’t even imagine life without social networks. Although it is also important to remember that social networking does play an important role in our daily lives, especially for younger people. They offer the opportunity to send free photos via WhatsApp to friends and family members whilst on holiday or to let everyone know what’s going on in your life with a quick Facebook status update. Social platforms are also an important part of everyday university life. WhatsApp groups are created for uni presentations, or there are Facebook groups for specific courses. Social networks make communication easier; but where do the boundaries lie? There’s nothing objectionable about occasionally updating your Facebook status or chatting to friends via WhatsApp. The problem is that we sometimes let ourselves get too easily distracted and lose sight of the essential things in life such as uni or life in the real world. It is important to be able to recognize when you are spending too much time on the internet or on social networks. The symptoms listed below can help you to recognize whether you are in danger of becoming addicted or not, or whether it’s still just harmless fun.

8 Symptoms of Addiction

  • The compulsion to be online 24/7: Anyone who checks their WhatsApp or Facebook messages every couple of minutes should try leaving their phone alone for a few hours. If the need to be “online” gets more and more intense, this could be a sign that it is a problem. Incidentally, have you seen this interesting blog article about a personal experiment?.
  • Restlessness when “offline”: You start to feel restless and are unable to think about anything else if you can’t go online to visit social platforms for just a few hours.
  • Real contacts: Alarm bells should start ringing when you start to neglect your social contacts in the real world in favor social networks. Many students always have their phones in their hands, even when they are with their friends. A boundary has definitely been crossed if the virtual world takes priority over communication in the real world.
  • Sleep deprivation: If you lie in bed for hours using your phone instead of sleeping this endangers your natural sleep rhythms and makes you tired the next day. And then if you do manage to fall asleep, when you wake up the first thing you do is look at your phone. Does this sound like a healthy sleep and waking pattern to you?
  • No private sphere: If you feel the need to post every tiny detail of your life on Facebook. Love, breakups, pregnancy, illness: Sometimes very personal and private things are shared with the virtual world, even before “real” friends are told. Don’t forget: What you share on the internet will remain there forever.
  • No private sphere: If you feel the need to post every tiny detail of your life on Facebook. Love, breakups, pregnancy, illness: Sometimes very personal and private things are shared with the virtual world, even before “real” friends are told. Don’t forget: What you share on the internet will remain there forever.
  • Stalker: When you are too interested in the lives of your friends on Facebook and always want to know what’s going on. This makes it difficult to concentrate on your own life.
  • Escape: Escaping into the virtual world allows you to forget your problems, because everything is “better” on online social networks; this means you can avoid dealing with any issues in the real world.

    Studierende, die always-online sind. Quelle: Pixabay.de

    Studierende, die always-online sind. Quelle: Pixabay.de

If these symptoms sound familiar, it might be time to think about how much time you are spending on social networks. You can easily test yourself by abstaining from visiting any social networks for an entire day, or even a bit longer. No Facebook, no WhatsApp or Instagram – absolutely no social networks. Then anyone who thinks about Facebook or WhatsApp too often on their “offline” day will see for themselves that it might be a good idea to spend a bit more time in the real world. Although it is of course alright if you just want to upload a photo. Nowadays, social networks are not just for fun, they are also important at work and at uni. As long as other important aspects such as uni, work, and having a social life are not being neglected, it’s fine to have a bit of fun in the virtual world too.

Feven

Key Skills at University

Key Skills at University

Schlüsselqualifikationen sind mehr als eine gute Idee.

Key skills are than just a good idea. Picture: pixabay.com

Students usually have more than enough to do, what with lectures and seminars, assignments and tutorials, as well as the individual preparatory and follow-up work required for university courses. Furthermore, it is also often necessary to have one or even two part-time jobs in order to pay for rent and study materials. Time is a luxury that one simply can’t afford. And anyway, it’s also important to have a life outside of uni. Isn’t it?

Depending on the course, key skills are sometimes mandatory and have simply become a regular part of university education. Despite this, they are often unpopular with students – even though they cover a wide range of exciting topics addressed in lectures and seminars. At the University of Stuttgart alone, you will be confronted with a wide variety of possible key skills courses – and aside from the mandatory courses, there are also many more on offer that will help you to widen your horizons. Although this, of course, demands that you take the time to do so. So what exactly are key skills all about?

Key Skills – What Exactly Are They?

Key skills is a term familiar to most students. But for anyone who doesn’t know what they are, here is a short explanation: Key skills are

“[…] general skills, approaches and elements of knowledge that are useful in a diverse range of contexts for problem solving, and for acquiring new competencies. They aid the development of important capabilities that make it possible to respond effectively not only to individual demands, but also to social requirements.” (According to the definition from the NRW Education Commission, 1995)

Acquiring new knowledge and the ability to produce academic work are the foundations of a university education and these skills are fundamentally important in a range of different contexts. Nevertheless, most university courses limit themselves to their own subject area. Key skills come into effect at exactly this point, at the interface between the ivory tower of knowledge and the practical application of this knowledge. They are becoming increasingly important, largely due to the fact that they significantly improve an individual’s ability to respond to a situation on various levels.

The University of Stuttgart offers a range of courses and seminars that teach these skills. The following paragraph provides an overview of the key skills courses on offer (referred to hereafter by the abbreviation KS).

Interdisciplinary Key Skills

Wissen verbindet. Quelle: pixabay.com

Knowledge connects. Picture: pixabay.com

Interdisciplinary KS incorporate methodic, social, communicative and personal competencies. Law, economics and politics are also part of key skills, along with a basic knowledge of science and technology. Because each individual area offers numerous events and activities, this blog entry focuses on methodic and social competencies. Either way, you can sign up for various courses depending on where your interests lie (and on availability) and improve your knowledge of subjects that may not be covered on your degree course, or you can test your knowledge of certain areas and share this with other students.

Methodic Competencies

In terms of methodic competencies, the uni offers a wide range of different courses and lectures. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce three of these:

  • Writing Workshop. The writing workshop involves taking an in-depth look at – yes you’ve guessed it – writing and all its different applications. The lecture An Introduction to Scientific Writing involves teaching students about the basics of academic or scientific writing. The course looks at a number of scientific texts and their specific languages structures. Furthermore, problematic areas are also analyzed and discussed. You also write your own texts, which you then rework and correct. This involves practical exercises to improve formulation. This is a great chance, particularly for those in their first semester, to gain some practical insight into how to correctly formulate seminar papers. This can help you avoid staring helplessly at a blank sheet of paper (and procrastinating) at the end of the semester. The course Academic Writing – Final Dissertation is recommended for those students who are approaching the end of their degree course and who are required to write a dissertation or a master’s thesis. Or if you need something even more specific, there is also: The Bachelor’s Dissertation for Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Application-Oriented Introduction to Office. This lecture is pretty much self-explanatory – it involves a more detailed look at Microsoft Office, so programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access.
  • Work Methods, Time Management, and Self Organization. This course looks at how to work independently, introducing you to methods that help you use your time more effectively and improve your organization skills. This course is recommended for those of you who find it difficult to work independently and who are easily overwhelmed, or for those who prioritize the wrong things (or don’t prioritize at all) or for anyone who simply wishes to improve on the strategies they use already.

Social Competencies

Teamwork ftw! Quelle: pixabay.com

Teamwork ftw!
Quelle: pixabay.com

In addition to methodic skills, you can of course also acquire social competencies, or improve the ones you have. You can find the right course or lectures for you – as well as the methodic courses – in the course catalogue. The following three examples give you a taste of what social competencies really involve:

  • Working and Communicating in a Team. The ability to work in a team is necessary not just at university, but also in a range of different situations. Anyone who read my blog entry Success through teamwork: Great, someone else will do the work? and its sequel might be able to remember one or two examples of the traps one can fall into when involved in team work. This seminar explains the meaning of teams, the various phases of team development with reference to different models and fundamental principles of communication. At the end of the seminar you will be better able to reflect on your own behavior and that of others. And this won’t just give you the edge at university.
  • Communication Training: An Introduction to Nonviolent Conflict Resolution and Mediation. As the name suggests, this course focuses on the fundamental elements of conflict, violence and of course nonviolence. It looks at how nonviolent communication is possible and shows that it helps to make decisions based on consensus. In addition to gaining personal awareness about different types of conflict, you will also develop a more conscious awareness of conflict and acquire skills that will help you in private, university and work situations.
  • Communication Laboratory. This is a special kind of course: you will work in teams, looking at texts from Argyris, Senge, Luhmann and Schlötter and then present your findings to the other teams in the group – as a competition. The focus here is on working together as a team to explore the texts and, with the help of this self-awareness exercise, to develop a “realistic insight into communication”. What will you gain from this experience? You will develop a deeper understanding for other people and become more conscious of possible communication problems and pitfalls.

Are you curious and want to find out more about how you can sign up for these or other KS events and courses? Great!

Where can I find KS and how can I sign up?

If you want to know where you can find KS courses that interest you, or where you can find out if there is something on offer that suits you, take a look at the course catalogue.

It is really important to register early for KS courses because the number of places is often very limited. You can’t take part if you haven’t registered. Bachelor’s and master’s students in particular must make sure that they first register via LSF. You have to read the specific course information to find out if you also need to register directly (for example by emailing the relevant lecturer).

If you need more information about KS or if you have specific questions, get in touch directly with the Center for Teaching and Further Education. You can send an email, phone or talk to them personally. They are always happy to help.

PS: Detailed instructions about how to register for KS courses can be found by following this link.

Romy