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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”

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  1. Claudine Lagerholm
    Hi Otto,
    yet another great blog for beginners! Thank you!
    I am a huge fan of internships. The only thing I would add is that I’m seeing young people do internships while in college but some also continue to work as interns after they graduate. If full time jobs are not available, an internship can be a good way to get your foot in the door or stay at a company that is in the proces of rebounding from the recession. Best,
  2. Bikas Tarway
    Hi Otto,

    Thanks for such a nice blog,
    As you said school solutions does not always work in the real life similarly your views are nice but does not really works some reasons are as follows.
    1. It is really very tough to find an part time job/ internship   in SAP as a fresher/college graduates (at least in my country ).

    2. Even if you find such job adjusting the timings is a real challenge (unless you are not doing a part time degree ).

    3. Managing the study ( keeping your GPA high ) and doing a job ( learning a very new thing like SAP) is again a big challenge.

    However if someone can really manage these challenges he will really win the race.

    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello, sorry for the late reply, in the flood of daily mails I must have missed the comment notification. If you have any ideas how to promote UA or what questions answer for the readers or what experience would be cool to share, I would like to help (of course if I would have the experience or any other qualifications needed). Regards Otto
  3. James Adams
    Otto, I appreciate the expeirence, but in places like Los Angeles, California, a degree is like a highschool diploma due to the competition.  Part-time jobs in IT are hard to find and if lucky enough they seek experienced with an alphabet soup of certifications. During these tough economic times, employers are asking for more and more and very seldom doe they hire inexperienced part-time students when they can get degreed and certified people for a few dollars more.
    1. Otto Gold Post author
      I can understand this point of view, but not all the places around the world are like California:)) We don´t have the muscle man for example. Or we don´t drive so many expensive eCars. Many of the readers around here are like me – average students, graduates from outside the States who need any encouragement they can get to apply for a SAP job or to decide about their career. I understand I am a little off for some people and some regions, but hope there are readers for the blog. For example the young man above whose comment cheered me up a lot!
      Say hello to the muscle man from my part:))
      I hope you don´t mind a little sarcasm, this is the way I live, nothing personal:)) Thank you for your comment and welcome a discussion on this topic. I understand I can learn a lot from the Californians:)) Regards Otto
  4. Kevin Coolman
    Hi Otto,

    This is great advice for students still in school!  I have followed a very similar path myself which has allowed me to have 1-2 years working directly with SAP before I graduate.  I believe through all my internships, I will have an upper hand in landing that first job.

    Great Blog!



    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello, great to hear that. In my opinion this is the best way to start and I feel so lucky I met the guy who has introduced me to my present boss:)) I am not sure I would be here where I am without a coincidence here and there:))
      I understand that some people feel this path can be tough to follow, I agree, in that case you need to work harder or (anyody who read this and is interested in SAP and want a hand or to talk for a while) drop me a line:))
      Kevin, I wonder if you have something deeper to share. I wonder what was your first opinion about SAP, your feelings, how did the first day with SAP go etc. Maybe you could write a short blog as well and I would reference it here. Like this we could create a “ring” of a students (now) or was-students-at that-time and help to improve the University Alliance or help the people around.
      Spending so much time here on SDN (like late nights etc.:))) I love this place (you would not beieve it, but I have a personal life and a girfriend as well:))) and understand how much this Community and the knowledge within can help the people.
      If you could think about it, it would be cool. Of course drop me a line, if you´re interested in a little chit chat:))
      Nice to meet you Kevin and thank you again for the comment, regards Otto
  5. David Herrema
    Hi Otto,

    Great Blog!  Your ideas for starting your SAP career are spot on.  I was lucky enough to find myself in Grand Valley State University’s MIS program which provides an invaluable SAP education.  There are four SAP courses (introduction to business processes, advanced business processes, configuration, and ABAP).  In addition, every year there is a Terp10 certification class! ( Finally we have the ERP Initiative internship program which continually helps sustain and develop the SAP program at GVSU.  Throughout this program and my internships, I gained broad knowledge technically and functionally of what SAP can do.   Currently, I am a developer in good ole’ ECC 6.0.  SDN is the place to go for any type of SAP question.  95% of the time I find my answer in the forums or wiki’s.  Do you have any recommendations on books, topics, or solutions to study in my spare time?  Have you ever considered entering DEMO JAM at TechED?


    David Herrema

    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello! sorry, it took me so long to provide a formal “answer”:) I was looking at your email (well, the SDN generated notification) marked with a red flag in my outlook thinking, what to answer.
      Career recomendations: I would start with reading the Jon Reed´s blogs about what is hot and fancy. Then I would ask my boss if I could start in one of the fields, if the company needs a guy with the skill and if he would support me. Then would pick one of these:
      – business objects together with SAP (if you want to start right ahead, I have published a blog about how to create a learning landscape just yesterday)
      – CRM (looks demanded a lot)
      – PI (we will not be able to live without it in future…)
      and/ or some more other things. Everything depends on what you like and of course what does your boss like:))
      About the last question: What exactly do you think I would do at the Demo Jam? I know nearly nothing about that and am not a stage person, but would consider that, if there would be a thing to offer to the crowd:)) What are your suggestions?
      1. David Herrema
        I will definitely look into John’s blogs; I have read a few in the past, and have not been disappointed. 

        It always depends on what your boss likes!  I would love to learn business objects; I am going to have to see if we have a sandbox environment I can start playing in.  Right now I am limited to ECC ABAP.  We are actually going live with SRM (not crm) in November, which should provide a fun and unique challenge. 

        PI is an integral part of the SAP landscape.  I was fortunate enough to have a project during my internship last summer, where I re-designed a flat file interface to use PI instead.

        That is the tricky part about demo jam!  You have to try to come up with something that no one has before, while still using SAP solutions.  Just search YouTube for previous entrants.  Unfortunately, entries are due at the end of July for this year…  I have an idea of what environment I want to develop in for next year, I just have to learn it and think of some subject matter (data) to work with.  I would definitely be willing to brain storm, or work on something together, if you were interested!

  6. Francis Carlo Flores Zandueta
    Hi Otto
    Great blog.
    I’ve been interested with SAP when I was on my internship program at JFC. But its very difficult to start a SAP career here because it is very expensive here to formally study SAP. Can u give a an idea how can i start my SAP BI/BW career?
    Thank you and hoping for your reply ^_^
    – Carlo Flores
    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello, sorry it took me so long to give you an answer! First I would install the SAP trial, or if you have any IDES access, it would work even better. Then I would start reading some articles. The cool thing about SAP is they provide the offical tutorials/examples for all the things they offer (you can find easily some ALV demo reports in the ABAP system, but could look harder to find some for BI, I understand that). I am sure such articles/ guides/ tutorials exist because I got some from a friend from SDN who helped me to find those when I was intersted in BW/BI. Well, I still am interested, but have some serious work to do all the time, so I don´t have so much time to play…
      Look for: “Step-by-Step: From the Data Model to
      the BI Application in the Web” which was the one I liked, I believe.
      If you have any more questions, ideas you can open your own forum thread or just mail me directly to talk. Maybe it would be cool to start with BW together and be ale to compare the ideas, the progress and the results.
      Again, sorry for coming late, lost the email notification in the stuffed mailbox. Good luck with your career and hopefully I will hear from you soon:))
      regards Otto
  7. Ulrich Brenner
    I guess you pretty much nailed it. I do agree with you that getting work experience as early as possible is essential. I would recommend (related to studies like Business Information Systems) to get an IT-related job while still studying. It helped me a lot to get a realistic perspective on the business. I also recommend to chose practical topics for the bachelor-& master thesis offered by companies, maybe the company you already work for. This could be the ultimate entry ticket into work-life, in my case it was.

    btw, congratulations to the neat little yellow exclamation mark icon!

    1. Otto Gold Post author
      I am happy for any feedback. The more feedback I get the more credibility the text has for the reader. And in my opinion the topic covered in this text is something important and young people should know about it and act to benefit from it.
      The lemon (exclamation) mark brings even more responsibility than ever. Hope to fulfill the expectations. I am still wide-eyed and wait what happens:))
      Thank you for the comment, regards Otto

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