Do you know that feeling where you study for years, and then suddenly, you’re graduating and you have no idea what you want to do with your career? What can I do with my degree, and what opportunities are open to me in the job market? Of course you have a rough idea of what you want to do or become in the long run, but you don’t know how you’ll get there.
It was always clear to me that human resources management was what I wanted to do. I studied business psychology with a major in personnel psychology and knew, right from the very first semester that human resources was going to be “my thing.” What I didn’t know for sure back then was which area of HR best suited my skills. There was just so much that interested me.
So in November last year, when a fellow student told me about the “Absolventenkongress” graduate fair in Cologne, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to find out about what my job chances were like with high-profile companies from various industries. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make one or two contacts. After all, you don’t often get the chance to meet potential employers without an appointment, introduce yourself informally and show them your resume.
The first thing I saw when I got to the fair was Bayer’s large, state-of-the-art stand. There were lots of young graduates milling around, as if there was something going for free (which there was, but more about that later).
Initial introductions at the Bayer stand
Growing up as a “Bayer kid” in Leverkusen, I always had a strong emotional attachment to the Group. Bayer would offer me outstanding development opportunities, that I knew, plus it would give me long-term security as an employee, so I decided to use the opportunity offered by the fair to check out the career opportunities at Bayer. I quickly found out which of the recruiters was from the HR department. Because of the rush, I had to wait a while before she had time for me, but the tasty, freshly made waffles being served at the stand made the wait bearable. My patience was rewarded not only by a waffle, but also with a very friendly chat with the recruiter.
When she’d looked through my resume and I’d told her which areas of HR I was interested in, she recommended that I apply directly for a job at Bayer, and even pointed me to a suitable position that was currently being advertised on the Bayer Career page – for an HR generalist in the front office. The position would give me the opportunity to experience all aspects of HR on a broad level. I was sure it was the perfect place for me to start.
Bayer online applications – fast pipeline
After that, everything went very fast. After setting up my applicant profile on the career portal on the Saturday, I sent off my application, and by Monday afternoon my cell phone was ringing. I was invited to an interview that same week. 14 days later, the job was mine, and not long after that I started work at Bayer.
Initially, of course, it was very exciting and full of new impressions – so many new names and faces, processes and activities. I must have shaken 50 hands on my first day, and had the feeling that everyone just spoke using abbreviations. By the second day, though, I was almost starting to feel at home. I can honestly say that my expectations have been met in every regard. Everyone made me very welcome and a “buddy” helped me get familiarized, patiently showing me how to do each task. It’s funny, thinking back to my interview, when I asked the lady who is now my teamleader how long the induction time usually lasts, and she said, “On the whole, the buddy helps you most in the first 6-8 weeks. But most employees say later that a buddy’s for life.”
Surprise reunion & shared lunch breaks
Alongside the buddy induction process, you are also invited to take part in a range of courses, which are often attended by staff from other teams. Actually, there’s a training course for every topic. In my third week at Bayer, for example, there was a course on “Recruiting and Onboarding at Bayer”, which explained the process from recruitment of new employees up to their induction. Surprisingly, this training course was held by someone I already knew – the recruiter from the graduate fair who recommended my position. She recognized me immediately, and was thrilled to see me again so soon. We’re still in touch.
I’ve been here for three months now, and really have the feeling that I’ve “arrived.” I have a variety of tasks, and we’re always sharing knowledge and information within the team. It’s a large team, and we are the contacts for staff in the different Bayer subgroups throughout Germany for all kinds of questions and problems on HR issues, such as the various HR services, training courses, remuneration and the company pension. We’re also the point of contact for applicants. Although it’s not long since I was an applicant at a graduate fair myself, I now find myself on the opposite side, among other things answering questions from other undergraduates. And this means that I can already play a small part in smoothing the career paths of other young people.
Always looking forward and never standing still
Of course, my own career path isn’t over now that I have started with Bayer. In September, I hope to start a part-time master’s course, and the middle of June I already had the first “Development Dialogue” with my teamleader. This is an annual meeting where you get to discuss your own career plans with your supervisor and receive feedback and support for personal development. Passion to innovate – Power to change: I always find this slogan motivates me to follow my professional (and private) path, to never stand still and to always look forward.