Combined apprenticeship & degree course at STULZ
Eager to start and filled with curiosity, I began my apprenticeship as a Cooling Technology Mechatronics Engineer together with other new apprentices who wanted to qualify in various professions. At the same time, I began my degree in Business Management at university.
At my apprenticing company they first showed us all the departments. A flood of new and unknown experiences followed. For me, as a newbie to the world of work, it was very exciting. I was quickly involved in all processes, and following an initial induction in Production, was able to get started on the everyday work of a Cooling Technology Mechatronics Engineer. I was already aware that I was a woman learning what was traditionally a man's job. I was in fact the only woman in my class at vocational college.
The early days were full of new discoveries and experiences in all aspects of the work - not just theoretical but also practical: carrying out the work steps and handling special tools and, last but not least, getting on with my colleagues. For me, it was nothing like school. During my apprenticeship, I finally managed to put my knowledge to practical use, and find out about interesting things in much more depth. My colleagues in the various parts of Production, with their many different technical qualifications, were always good purveyors of knowledge and skills (I'm deliberately not using the word "teacher", as it went far beyond just teaching). I spent most of my apprenticeship at the company.
The combined apprenticeship & degree course
But my life then rapidly came to include vocational college and university. The amount of theory increased, but because I could see the relationships both in the refrigerant circuit and in operational processes, I was able to understand the different subjects more quickly. This link between theory and practice helped me with many tests, because transferring the knowledge became so much easier. Lessons at the vocational college were organized by topic. It was always fascinating to hear reports from my fellow students, who were a colorful bunch from companies with a great range of customers. There was everything from dispensing systems and cold stores to doctors' surgeries and office complexes, data centers and ice skating rinks.
Not only did I learn what kind of chilling system is used and what features it must have - I also learned what physical and chemical processes make the difference between them. In the company where I was doing my apprenticeship, I started in Production. This greatly helped me get to grips with the subject and acquire a basic understanding of the refrigerant circuit: all the many individual parts have to be assembled to create a perfectly functioning unit. And it did actually function without problem, I checked with colleagues in Quality Assurance. There, the completed unit is connected and tested to ensure it's working perfectly. I was also involved in this part of production, and learned to individually configure the software of the device and perform a function test on it.
On site at the customer's premise
Later on during my apprenticeship, I went to visit customers with service engineers. Here, I was able to work on the complete refrigerant circuit: I was taken along to install and start up new systems, perform maintenance and repairs and, finally, help with troubleshooting failed units in emergencies.
In addition, I spent five weeks in Service at a subsidiary in the Netherlands. A brilliant experience! At this time, Direct Free Cooling was already extremely popular in the Netherlands. Our Dutch engineers have developed duct systems for entire buildings and seamlessly integrated them in companies' own precision air conditioning units. I learned a great deal working on such complex systems.
After three years, I completed my apprenticeship as a "Hamburg Regional Champion".
I went to the university largely at weekends. At first, the degree in Business Management had little to do with my apprenticeship. However, I found many links to my everyday job, particularly in terms of production processes and materials management procedures. I became familiar with many different systems and knew why the processes were controlled as they were. Furthermore, I gained new insights into the high value of sales and purchasing in the overall operations of a producing company. I completed my Bachelor's degree after four years in the normal way.
After my studies, my career path continued as a Project Engineer in Global Sales. Here, I have to combine cooling technology with business management for specific projects and individual customers. This mix provides me with an interesting and varied working life. Each customer has individual technical requirements and different purchasing strategies. I find the combination of looking for the most efficient technical solution to satisfy all the customer's wishes and the quotation process with constant customer contact to be an exciting challenge, so my everyday working life is never boring.
Now as ever, I still benefit from my colleagues' wealth of experience. I first had to learn how to conduct myself and tackle tricky quotations - and learn about the very different kinds of international relations - from my tried and tested colleagues. For special technical requirements and very in-depth questions, I mainly work with Product Management and Development. Nearly every day, my technical expertise is furthered by jointly working on solutions.