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Interview with our instructor Lina Steffen What to know about the apprenticeship Industrial Management Assistant and the Dual Study Program International Management

Who could be better to train upcoming industrial management assistants than Lina Steffen, who got her start here in 2017 in precisely this apprenticeship? Back then, she was envied by her friends because the apprenticeship gave her such a clear idea of what she wanted to do. A Cologne native, Steffen is 23 years old and thus not too far off in age from the apprentices and students. She knows what they expect, what they need, and what skills and characteristics they should have, and she knows the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ms. Steffen, what exactly do industrial management assistants learn and do in the Coroplast Group?

The industrial management assistent apprenticeship is very comprehensive and the apprentices go through practically all of the company’s departments, becoming familiar with the entire value-added chain: purchasing, sales, HR, finance, work preparation, and sometimes also shipping and marketing. They spend between two and three months in each department. Parallel to their time in the company they also have block lessons at the Barmen vocational training center in Wuppertal, which means that during the apprenticeship they rotate between 10-week blocks at Barmen and time spent within Coroplast itself. At the end of the apprenticeship, which normally takes 3 years but with us is usually shortened to 2.5 years, the apprentices choose a department where they would like to work in the future.

On average, around 4 to 5 industrial clerk apprentices or International Management dual students begin at the Coroplast Group every year.

That means that you design the apprenticeship with the hope of retaining the trainees, right?

Yes, exactly. Our training program is, you could say, needs-based. That means that we here in the HR department coordinate with the respective department before an upcoming job opening. Our goal is to hire all of our apprentices upon completion of the program, and accomplishing that requires precisely this type of proactive planning. Of course, though, this does not mean that we attempt to “cultivate” our apprentices to fit specific job profiles. Everyone who begins here at Coroplast has enough time and experience within the company to be able to decide where they want to be based on their personal interests and strengths.

And how does the apprenticeship differ from the dual study program?

The International Management dual study program is combined with the industrial management assistent apprenticeship, which means that initially they both learn the same material. In addition to the apprenticeship, those in the study program spend two days a week at FOM, the university of applied sciences in Wuppertal. In the end, the dual study program graduates come out with two degrees: the International Management bachelor’s degree and the industrial management assistent apprenticeship.

How does the application process work? What steps do the applicants need to be prepared for?

Our application process is divided into three steps. First, all of the applicants start with an online test – a general personality and knowledge test – and they have seven days time to complete it. Then we pre-select applicants for a second online test. Applicants that pass this second test will receive a task that they are to prepare for the interview. This year the task was to market a pen. We love hearing the creative ways in which the applicants complete the interview task.

Since the work load in our dual-study program is quite high, the participants get one afternoon a week off.

Apprentices and students are an important and inherent part of our team. People like to be seen, valued, and supported.

Lina Steffen | HR Specialist Apprentices, Students & Trainees

The three most important tips for the apprenticeship: These are the qualities and skills you should have in order to make it onto the shortlist.

  • For the apprenticeship, we generally like to see the general or subject-related higher education entrance qualification (German Abitur). Applicants should have already dealt with the concrete topics that they will see within the apprenticeship. And, of course, it’s never a bad idea to have an answer ready when asked why they want to do this apprenticeship with the Coroplast Group.

  • We want our applicants to give us the impression that they really want to get started with our program. This is important because the apprenticeships require quite a bit of persistence and stamina.

  • It’s important that our apprentices are open and willing to step out of their comfort zones while they are going through the process of learning about the entire value-added chain. They should be willing to learn new things and try out new areas that go beyond their existing knowledge and experience. Being able to approach others openly and candidly is also an important attribute.

For all those who are still on the fence about whether the apprenticeship they are considering is the right choice, Lina Steffen recommends first trying it out in an internship.

What are the advantage of the apprenticeship/dual study program?

There are numerous advantages: The apprenticeship as well as the study program lay an excellent foundation for future careers. Participants gain a lot of insight into the work and it gives them a great basis for deciding what area they would like to work in when they finish the program. Most people really do not know what they want to and can do later in their careers, so the apprenticeship/study program is really a great opportunity to figure that out. I myself also benefited from this advantage.

How so?

I also completed the industrial management assistent apprenticeship here, and while I was doing it I discovered that working in HR is a great fit for me. During the last half year of the apprenticeship I already had set tasks and a lot of responsibility. Together with my former colleague I took care of the entire apprentice recruiting. After the apprenticeship, I was fortunate that the Coroplast Group offered me a position in HR and I was able to seamlessly transition to the position HR Specialist Apprentices, Students & Trainees. Parallel to starting this position I also acquired an instructor’s license from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce [German: IHK]. And just to make absolutely sure that I am never bored, I am also currently studying business psychology in addition to my job.

I am always available and I talk with all of our apprentices on a regular basis. Their first point of contact is the person within the department they are currently working in who is responsible for the apprentice.

Lina Steffen | HR Specialist Apprentices, Students & Trainees

What makes the apprenticeship at the Coroplast Group special?

There are always a lot of exciting projects here where the apprentices can really show what they’ve got. That is one of the biggest differences between small and large companies. Compared to large corporations, everything here is much more personal. We are happy to invest in the future and in our apprentices. Every one of our apprentices even gets their own iPad. We treat our apprentices and students just like the rest of our employees. For example, they also get 30 days of vacation as well as vacation and Christmas bonuses. Their work is varied and interesting and the specific project and tasks vary depending on what department they are currently working in. Thus, a typical apprenticeship day is something that simply doesn’t exist. In my opinion, the best thing is the camaraderie and teamwork among colleagues and the great working environment in the departments.

Steffen is a tennis enthusiast, very active, loves meeting people and being out and about – and sometimes has to force herself to slow down and take a break.

Thanks for talking with us, Ms. Steffen!

Your contact person Careers – Graduates & Students

Do you have any questions about internships, working student jobs or trainee programmes? Then please feel free to contact us at any time!