Dear reader (hopefully a university student),
Have you ever considered to start preparing for your future career while still going to school? With what result? Dou you have a part-time? Or you have had some summer jobs but don´t want to push it more?
I would like to tell the story about how I have started my SAP career and how useful it was to start earlier than my "class-mates" and what new and better opportunities it gave me.
Advantages for you
Let me mention few of the advantages, I can think about first:
You´ve probably noticed that the World suffers from the crisis (in fact not all the people have experienced a crisis, but it is a popular topic...). Maybe you have noticed how the situation has changed the job market (maybe it didn´t change the market in your country, but that´s very unlikely). In my country it is not easy to find a good job for a fresh graduate. Of course, that is well... possible, but it´s tough to find a job you would like to start your career with (well, the first job is the important decision right? It will influence the quality of your whole life, it will decide about the salary of yours for the future, about the career development opportunities etc. All the other positions and employers will value your abilities and experience based on your last job).
The salary is not that high as it used to be. You can probably remember the buzz like two, three years ago, when it was a problem for a company to hire some new talents. It was profitable for a man, who was changing his job quickly getting 10% more with every change (even if I don´t like that).
If you will start your career now, when still attending the university, you will not be treated like a fresh graduate after you get the diploma. When the time will come, you will have the months or even years of experience, you will understand the real life problems (the hand on my heart, the real life is not like the teachers told us and the school problems do not appear in the real life, at least the school "solutions" don´t work as they used to). You will have the experience with the responsibility on your shoulders. You will have the experience with hard work, being part of the team, experience with a daily routing of going to work (even if you don´t "go" to work every day). All that is, what the employers value, I think.
When your "class-mates" will struggle to find a good job sending their "fresh graduate CVs", you will be sending yours with like a "2-years experienced developer in SAP" headline. And of course your employer will know you for some time, will know about your talents, what you can do and what you cannot do and pay you according to the experience. Not like a stranger sent by a recruitment agency which cares about the money (they try to sell you!!) more than the quality (not about your quality, but about the quality of the future relationship between you and your employer, if you will fit into the company´s needs).
Maybe you will find that a nice way of changing the daily routine - to go both to school and to work. If you get bored by the school stuff, you can go to work, earn some credit, earn some money, solve some problems and tire yourself a bit and you will be happy to go to school the next day. For an active person (like me) it was cool to change the routine from school to work and back.
By the way, I have learnt a lot this way. At work I was trying to use the "school solutions" and prove them not working. At school I was trying to recall some problems from work and applying the knowledge to understand it, find if there is any good in learning this particular stuff (to be fair, the school stuff doesn´t work in practice but it is the best starting point to start the search for the "proper" solution).
Advantages for the employer
Of course I could name some advantages for the employer as well:
You´re cheaper, that is obvious. You´ve probably noticed that the salary depends on your age (especially in IT, young people don´t like the fact. The difference in the salary and the difference in the quality are not easily comparable). But as I mentioned earlier, you will feel the difference soon. As soon as you will see your class-mates looking for a fresh graduate job.
You are flexible. You´re open to learn new technologies, understand the new ideas (that happens a lot, when the traditional business paradigms change). You´re a quick learner (probably), can fill the blanks when a member leaves the team etc. Note that SAP offers the new technologies, standards, tools, fixes and functionality few times a year. And a man, who spends the working hours "selling", what he has learnt before, find no time (or little time) to learn all the new stuff. That´s why we need to meet new people who can use all the new tools and stuff.
You´re flexible with the working hours as well. As a beginner you are not (probably) sent right away to the client, so you don´t have to work from 9 to 5 (or whatever your working hours are in your country). You can work on evenings or weekends, you can support the team when a member is out, help the team when it is under the time pressure. This way you can learn quickly, learn new topics, what will you find very important for your future (but will understand this after some time, not immediately).
Because you don´t have to work every day (at least I didn´t have to), you can think about the problems you have left to solve. You can even spent some more time working (which you will not get paid now, but will pay off later) to fill the initial gaps in your knowledge, to understand how can you benefit from your school experience at work (especially in IT, this is very important: you can do some programming in PHP, but can´t do any ABAP, so you start thinking about how to use what you have learnt before for the ABAP work). You can spend some time Googling, asking questions (yes, yes, that is what we do here, at SDN, welcome), trying the tutorials, everything you will not have time for on the "real" job. You can move forward very quickly this way.
There is one last thing I would like to share. Do you understand the whole SAP portfolio? Do you understand all the systems, modules, technologies, standards and all the stuff and can decide about your career just now? After the years of experience I know how much I don´t know. It took me like months to understand what development tools or functional areas will (hopefully) suit my nature, my skills, my education, my experience. With every project I was on the team I was refining on the final goal. Use your time, choose carefully and you can start an attractive, enjoyable and rewarding career in SAP.
Hope to see you, dear reader, on the next project.
P.S.: Remember how valuable can be to write you diploma thesis on some "commercial" subject, how much work will not be wasted like if you would cover some into-the-shelf topic, important only for your teacher.
PP.SS.: Further reading about the SAP career (for example) here: "Want to switch to SAP consultancy"