Hannah Schuler, 20 years & Milena Augustin, 21 years, 2nd year

DHBW Bachelor of Arts Digital Commerce Management & Handel

What was the first day like for you at Markant? And how was the first week?
Hannah: The initial period went very well for me. We were able to get to know each other during the induction days and there was a fixed framework so you always knew what was coming up next. I think it was a successful introduction to the company.
I also really enjoyed my first week and I received a very warm welcome. I gained an initial broad overview of the field of work and of the activities involved as well as my colleagues in the team. Everyone was very friendly and they treated me as an equal, as if I was a new member of the team. It was also good that I had initially had things explained to me and I was included in the work. This meant that I found it easier to pick things up, and my initial nervousness had already disappeared by the time we all had lunch together.

Milena: I can only agree with what Hannah has just said, it was the just the same for me. The icebreaker days were an excellent way of meeting the other apprentices and students, as well as the apprentices for the first time. It was good that we started off with team building and challenges because it meant we could get to know each other and quickly feel part of the team. I also got a warm welcome from my unit and I was briefed about all the key topics. Everyone was keen to ensure that I was happy with things, and so it was a very easy and enjoyable induction. The unit told you everything you had to know and didn't mind if you had any questions, and they also took the time to fill you in on the overall picture.
The friendliness of the team quickly settled my nerves, so it was a really good induction.
How do find working at Markant and what makes it so special?
M: I'm struck by the number of different activities that are carried out, which means that working here is always interesting. It's good to see how much trust people place in you and how you're soon allowed to work more independently. You're given your own tasks to complete, so you're also given responsibility. It makes me feel really appreciated, and I've noticed just how good the training is. For me a lot of the training is "learning by doing" because you're given the opportunity to try things out and you can learn from your own experiences. Nevertheless, you're given a very clear and thorough introduction to all the topics that need to be covered.
At the same time, everyone is treated as an individual and you can get involved in everything that goes on in the units. You're integrated into the day-to day work of the teams and you can go to meetings and presentations or take part in discussions. So you really find out about the day-to-day running of the different departments, and you notice just how important the passing on of knowledge is at Markant. But in general terms too I think communication within Markant is very good. The mix of all these elements is the main appeal for me. It's enjoyable and very varied, and it continually throws up new challenges which you always learn from.
H: I completely agree with Milena. For me as a business studies and retail student, the combination of industry and retail is really fascinating. Because this business model provides you with input from each side. You have a lot of contact with customers, and in overall terms you're allowed to build up a lot of contacts. You also have responsibility and challenges transferred to you, and you're really treated as part of the teams so there's lots of variety in your day-to-day tasks. I enjoy working here and I'm pleased to be getting my first experiences of the world of work here. I feel at home here and I think there's a really good atmosphere, so I really like coming to work.
I'm also impressed by the fact that Markant is a very modern business and so we use cutting-edge technology.
How are you involved in planning the course of your training at Markant?
H: In the first apprenticeship year, you're taught the basics, and then you choose areas you're interested in or for which you have a special aptitude or preference, so that you can deepen your knowledge of those areas. You can also say if there are any new challenges that you would like to seek out, but if necessary you can also go back to a unit if you would need to get more experience there. We were also able to pick up new skills in seminars, such as how to provide constructive feedback. But I feel in a more general way that the company is always open to new ideas, so we're allowed to make contributions and put our ideas forward at various events. You're also given help to find the right subject to cover in project assignments.

M: I also think you can help shape your deployment plan according to your own wishes, the training officer is very relaxed about this and welcomes people making suggestions. We also have a trainees' and young employees' representative to whom we can submit any ideas or suggestions that we have. There are also questionnaires which ask about employee morale and any needs that people have. You really feel that Markant is keen to know your opinions and that it listens to what you have to say. You're encouraged to provide feedback and put forward suggestions for improvements. The apprentices and students are allowed to have their say in this regard.
Has anything been different from what you would have expected? What has surprised you about the training?
M: I wouldn't have thought that we would have been given so much responsibility and be allowed to work so independently. A lot of trust was placed in me early on and so I was usually allowed to work independently after a few weeks – and was actually able to do so. You're also given encouragement to do this and often you're told: "No, there's no need for me to check that, you're doing it right". Because you're really involved in day-to-day operations you feel like a member of the team, and you're recognised and respected as such. The teams are always keen to help you learn and to make sure you really benefit from the work that you put in. People try to show you the varied nature of the work that is involved in the tasks that you are doing, and they sometimes give you hard tasks so that you can rise to the challenge. I've also been surprised at how autonomously you're allowed to work here, you're more or less free to plan each day as you want to and to organise your own work. It's you who decides how you manage your time and allocate your tasks.

H: Yes, I also wouldn't have expected to be given so much responsibility and to be allowed to directly contribute to the work. You can participate fully in the team's work and you're treated as an equal by the other employees. I feel that people appreciate the work that I do in the jobs that are assigned to me. Targeted support is provided to enable you to work independently, and you're allowed to make your own decisions. But I also wouldn't have thought that the pattern of work would be as flexible as it is – even during your training you can say which units you're interested in or you can even approach the teams directly.
I was surprised to find that there are always new challenges, and that the work isn't monotonous – contrary to what you might suppose in relation to an office job.
How is your training supported by Markant?
H: In many ways – first of all we receive financial support in the form of subsidised accommodation because we effectively have to live in two different places, and we receive a fair rate of pay. But we're also given an allowance for buying specialist reading materials.
Of course, we have great computer systems to keep us up-to-date and so there's equality of opportunities. We're provided with everything we need to make the best of our work and our studies.
For me a major plus is also the advice and support that we're given. We're provided with help by the training officer as well as by the units that we work in, for instance with regard to job prospects or project assignments. It's a very friendly environment and people are pleased to help.

M: I also think that the computer systems provide equality of opportunity. This makes studying much easier. The advice and help that we get from colleagues is also very useful. I feel that people are willing to take the time to help. I asked a colleague who I hardly knew if she could give me some tips. She took the time to suggest areas within Markant that might be of interest to me based on my own strengths. I think it's really great that although you don't really know someone you're still willing to spend the time to help them and provide them with advice. Everyone is so straightforward and friendly towards you and they're keen to help you plan your future.
Also we're often given small treats which show how much we're appreciated. For example, at the meeting hosted by the trainees' and young employees' representative we were given small care bags, and just recently we were given Markant zip-up hoodies. This helps motivate you to do your best because you feel that the little presents are a form of recognition and they make you feel that the company supports you.
What are your prospects of being taken on? Do you feel that you're being given a good preparation for your future career?
H: I feel that I'm in really good hands here because the many insights that you gain also enable you find out where your strengths, but also your weaknesses lie. You're provided with all the basic knowledge so you're able to do lots of different activities. I think that we're also given the best possible assistance for choosing our own career path.
It's also good to know that people are keen to help us make progress and to take us on.

M: Yes, I also feel that I'm generally being looked after very well because Markant likes to recruit internally. The next generation of employees are being trained for the company's own needs and you actually notice this. In the units, you also get to know yourself properly and you find out what isn't your cup of tea. So you can assess your own capabilities better and think about how you should go about finding the right opportunity.1
I'm also encouraged by knowing that Markant is keen for people to develop their skills and provides support.
Additional question: What's the difference between your dual study courses and what would your advice be to people who are unsure about applying?
M: The basic difference between our study courses is between the core modules of the study programme. In my case, Digital Commerce Management establishes a link between business studies and IT. In other words, it's largely about database management, digitization in the retail sector, process optimization, the basics of IT, or the analysis of business models. In effect you're trained to be a "digital interface". Overall, digitization is a big topic and a major goal. So you should really be up to speed in business studies and also be IT-savvy because most of our studying is done digitally. Everything is practised online, for instance, so far we've hardly been given any papers to use because everything is saved in the university forums.

H: In my case it's more retail-focused. It's also very practical because we work using case studies taken directly from the retail sector. The work is about understanding and simplifying processes and then linking them to retail operations. We do learn about general business studies issues, but always in relation to retail and wholesale as well as corporate governance. The focus is always on practical relevance, and for us the business studies element is more in-depth than for Milena. So although we study the same subjects, and with the same professors in some cases, our syllabuses are different – as their names suggest. In Milena's case, the focus is mainly on IT issues whereas for me it's on retail issues. There's also a lot about value-added chains and corporate governance, but also statistics. The main focus tends to be on business administration.
What prompted your decision to choose a combined IT/business studies training/study programme with Markant?
M: Because I was studying at a Commercial High School I was able to get my first experience of these subjects. My optional subject was computer science and I was interested in linking the two subjects. I wanted to combine my interests in each of them. Until I found out about the Markant study programme, I didn't even know that such a thing existed. When I read the job description, I knew it was right for me and I could make a success of it.
I had found about Markant earlier on because we had our first contact with the company at school. They came and gave presentations to us and there were also some IT recruitment events. Overall, the company was very committed and also very accessible for us. Then there was the visit to Iberiana in Spain which further increased my interest in Markant. Its business model and international presence impressed me.

H: The specialist subjects I studied for my school-leaving exams were social studies and civics as well as economics. This is what initially aroused my interest. I thought the Markant concept was interesting because it combined industry and retail. I was keen to gain experience in the retail sector and in business administration and to find out more about them, including for use in my subsequent career. I then decided on the dual course of study because I really wanted to experience both aspects – university as well as the company – so that I would be able to apply my theoretical knowledge in practice. For me, it was important to do a professional training course and to be able to apply my knowledge. Markant is known for its training on the one hand and also for developing and promoting talent internally. Even when I was at school Markant made a lasting impression on me and came across as an exciting regional business. That is what led to me deciding to apply to the company – and I'm very glad that I did.

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