Connecting Porsche Digital with Young Talents: How a Dual Study Program Enriches the Work of Mentor and Student
Prior to joining Porsche Digital, Senior UX Designer Simeon Herrmann completed a dual study program himself — Media Design at DHBW Ravensburg. Now he is training Lena, the first dual student at Porsche Digital, who started the same study program as Simeon more than ten years after him. After the first practical phase, Simeon looks back on joint projects and talks about the new impulses he was able to give and experience as a mentor.
Porsche Digital is a young company; many of our employees have now been with us for four to five years. During this time, we have seen how important it is to reflect different skillsets and perspectives in order to create innovative digital products. In addition to classic internships, we want to go one step further and invest more in the vocational training of young talents with a more holistic, long-term approach. That’s why we’ve been looking for a way to bring young talents into the team who then grow with us over a longer period of time. These considerations led to Lena joining us as a dual student last October.
For Porsche Digital, the corporate study program at DHBW Ravensburg is quite new. For me personally, it is a concept that has accompanied me for a long time and the idea of becoming a supervisor and trainer myself has become increasingly important over the past few years. I had the idea of offering a dual study program because I had completed one myself and I am still very convinced of the concept. I did my dual bachelor’s degree in Media Design at DHBW Ravensburg from 2010 to 2013 and Lena is now studying the same program. That’s an exciting basis for our mentoring relationship. Early on during my own studies, I began to help in the supervision and support of other students and started to teach a 3D animation program as a tutor. I had a lot of fun, supporting my fellow students and continued the motion design course over the next years, also during my diploma studies at the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg, my time as a freelance designer and even in the early days at Porsche Digital. This has enriched me for many years, and that’s why I’m happy to be able to use this old passion again in my professional life. I have not only rediscovered the joy of teaching but have also enhanced my own coaching strengths through the commitment to Lena’s training.
Best of both worlds
From my point of view, there are three central advantages of a dual study of Media Design compared to a normal one. Firstly, the integrated work experience means that students know what they are actually studying for. That means, they really get an idea of how their future job could look like, how ideas are implemented into real products, how customers react on them and how students can create personal impact within a company. The studies are therefore not an abstract space with focus on academic theory, but rather a place to learn how to not only think creatively and create innovative concepts but also realize and operate products effectively and sustainably. To see the impact of my own work, an idea being realized within a product or service which is used by real customers, this can unleash tremendous motivation and drive. Secondly, the alternating rhythm of three-month phases of theory and practice give not only a guiding structure for the bachelor studies but also enable refreshing change after every quarter of the year. The switch of context between state university and company working environment, between fellow students at the same age and more experienced colleagues, between experimental projects and real products is a great foundation to get inspired, to learn and grow — professionally and personally. And last but not least: being a student at a corporate state university means to be an apprentice in a company as well, which combines the best of both worlds. Small classes and renowned lecturer and professors enable individual support and excellent education. Actually, the Media Design studies at DHBW Ravensburg belong to the most successful and creative design studies in Germany, which is not only reflected in the history of winning student design awards for the last years but also in the personal and professional success of the graduates. Enjoying all advantages of student life means to have a lot freedom and benefits as well. And at the same time, being employed as an apprentice in a company brings the good feeling of being secured. And having a monthly income as a student is only one single part of that.
Learning in both directions
Respecting time as one of our most valuable ressources is one major principle for my supervision of students at Porsche Digital. My approach to Lena’s training is to combine the supervision with content-related work, involving Lena in my projects as much as possible, dependent on her experience and skill level. This means, Lena is never working on something ,,just for learning & training”, but all her work has real value and impact for the product. In the first and second semester, this was primarily the smart and connected eBike Cyklær, which was delivered to the first customers in May 2022. As part of this, Lena built her first custom UX component after just three weeks with us, which can be seen live on our website. Lena is also involved in the areas of communication and marketing and has already participated in events with initial customer contact.
Of course this is just a tiny detail of a bigger picture of our product. But for me as supervisor, it’s of great value and interest to give Lena responsibility and give every part of her work, time and ideas a meaningful purpose. Sure, this starts on a lower level to make sure, expectations are appropriate to her level of experience. The responsibility and impact level of Lena’s work grows from week to week. I’m convinced that a meaningful contribution to a real product is one of the most motivating factors in learning and growing.
In contrast to my own beginnings, I can observe that Lena adopts Porsche Digital’s perspective on product development, as she takes responsibility for time, resources, budget, and customer data. For such an early stage in her career, this fact is truly remarkable. However, I can also learn from her. The alternating rhythm of 3-month practical phases and 3-month theory phases allows us to anchor the fresh ideas, concepts and projects that Lena develops during her theory phases in Ravensburg as a regular creative impulse in the company. After every theory phase, when she is back with us, what she has learned will then find its way into the team. This repeats every semester. We take the time to listen to her new knowledge and get fresh impulses, tools, and thoughts. We started that concept right at the start of her studies and continue, improve and adapt the idea every semester.It is also very important that Lena creates presentations with her most important achievements and projects at the end of each semester. I’m already looking forward to lining them up after six semesters and seeing the personal development. I myself want to become even more professional in supporting Lena. At the end of the dual study program, we also want to offer Lena the opportunity to join the company on a permanent basis and move on to the next level with us. The experience of the first semesters of the corporate study program at DHBW Ravensburg is already a success story for us at Porsche Digital. That’s why we have decided to offer another study place this year and continue to invest in the training of young talents in October 2022.
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