Monthly Topic 09 Working With Us
Studierendenwerk Kassel has been a reliable employer since 1971. It started five decades ago as the Studentenwerk with 22 employees in ten departments. Then, as now, the focus of its work was on supporting students. This is also reflected in the first business distribution plan for the departments.
The Gesamthochschule Kassel, which was also founded in 1971 and later became the University of Kassel, had 2,913 students in its first semester of existence.
The Studentenwerk grew with the university. By 1980, barely ten years after it was founded, it already had 100 employees on board. They worked in the BAföG office, in the canteens and cafeterias, in Advisory centers, as craftsmen or in administration.
Today, 215 women and men are active in the Studierendenwerk Kassel. Among other things, they take care of accounting, IT, human resources and legal matters or communications, are responsible for quality management, student financing and advising, provide student housing, work in canteens, cafeterias and daycare centers, or projects in internationalization work and digitization.
The Studierendenwerk is a training company, and internships in various areas as well as the voluntary social year (FSJ) can be completed here.
The Studierendenwerk is actively committed to inclusion and employs far more workers with disabilities than required by law. If necessary, workplaces are adapted to suit the needs of people with disabilities. As part of the company's health management program, employees can take part in preventive measures such as yoga courses.
1971: 27 employees working for 2,913 students
2021: 215 employees working for 24,645 students
- Fit for the future - Managing Director Christa Ambrosius: "A kind of a start-up feeling"
- Human resources development - Silke Rudolf, Head of Human Resources: "Exciting diversity"
- Digitization - Nawid Ghazi and Sebastian Bahl: "Stopping a running system"
- Family-friendly - Martina Bauernschmitt and Petra Umbach: "Communication is everything"
- Technologization - Peter Ochs and Martin Diehl: "There's always something"
- Career start - Johanna Pannek: "Felt at home from the start"
- Career start - Bettina Ruhl: "Found the right recipe"
- Career start - Sarah Mohrdieck: "A stroke of luck"
- Training - Robin Hilka and Adrian Krumme: "This passion is contagious"
- Training - Lisa Horn and Angelika Hieronimus: "Paving ways"
The Studierendenwerk and the people who work here have already proven their dynamism and willingness to change: From the wild founding years of the 1970s to the student boom of the 1990s to the present day shaped by digitalization, we have kept up, always aligning our work with the needs of students.
"So that studying succeeds" - our statutory mission sets the goal that defines us. We are the ones who make sure that students at the University of Kassel have a clear head for their studies. In the coming years, we will have to prove our flexibility. Time has become more fast-moving, and on top of that there is the pandemic, which will change campus life permanently.
The key now is to strengthen and develop staff in such a way that we can respond quickly and nimbly to new situations. We need short communication channels, a high level of motivation and flat hierarchies - in other words, almost a bit of a start-up feeling.
Of course, this only works if employees feel valued. When they know that it's them and their work that counts. Only then will they be able to feel the team spirit and identify with their employer, even under high performance pressure.
Studierendenwerk Kassel has a lot to offer its employees. Secure jobs, family-friendly working time models, various social benefits and an appreciative, friendly working atmosphere are what set us apart. We promote the personal development of our employees and want them to feel comfortable.
In return, our employees make us fit for the future with their creative drive, skills and creativity.
Ms. Rudolf, you are Head of Human Resources at the Studierendenwerk. Which are the major challenges in personnel development?
In terms of personnel recruitment, we are of course feeling the effects of demographic change: competition on the labor market for good applicants is becoming ever fiercer - and the shortage of skilled workers is exacerbating this problem even further.
At the same time, one of our core concerns is the continuous professional development of our staff. We hold regular appraisal interviews and are constantly looking for ways to support and develop our employees individually - always with the option of recruiting future managers from our own ranks in mind.
There are many different professions in the Studierendenwerk: from kitchen professionals in the dining halls and cafeterias to daycare specialists, BAföG and AFBG specialists, psychological counselors and craftsmen - to name just a few examples. Does this diversity make your job particularly exciting?
Yes, because you have to adapt to diverse attitudes and professional profiles. We are not only looking for staff with an academic education, but also people from the craft and culinary fields. And again, completely different professional profiles for the social areas. Because I always have to think my way into different areas of work, I have also been able to learn a lot about these professions and the people behind them.
The Corona pandemic has forced us all to work in a more flexible and mobile way than before. What conclusions do you draw from this time for the digitization of the working world?
Mobile work is a central building block of the future working world, but in my opinion it does not replace presence at the workplace 100 percent. Personal dialog between employees is essential, especially for the further development of processes. The bond with the company loosens with mobile work. Managers who are not fulfilling their leadership role may be inclined to send employees to the home office in order to solve their personnel problems. In my opinion, a mixed model is the right approach here. Many tasks can be done well on the move, while others are better located on site.
Of course, the advance of digitization is making things easier. We also want to get even better in this area - which is why we hired a project manager for digitization this year - this position was newly created.
Sebastian Bahl and Nawid Keshavarz Ghazi have a lot on their plate right now. Together, they are organizing a software exchange in the Student Housing department, Bahl as project manager in the department, Ghazi as project manager for digitization.
“Never stop a running system - yes, that would be good. But sometimes there's no other way. For example, when outdated software has to be replaced by completely new software. A real tour de force for all of us, which has to be managed in addition to our normal work. And yet also a chance to review familiar processes for opportunities for improvement."
Nawid Keshavarz Ghazi:
„The most important thing in such an extensive project is to keep track of everything. The schedule, budget and, above all, the goal must never be lost sight of. At the same time, it's important to support and motivate the players. Ideally, at the end we're all convinced that the work was worthwhile. Digitization in the Studierendenwerk as a whole is about optimizing and establishing IT-supported, cross-departmental processes while keeping an eye on cost-effectiveness, and taking students and employees along with them."
Martina Bauernschmitt and Petra Umbach are a perfectly matched tandem. They share 50:50 a full-time position in the secretariat of the management. In the job-sharing model, they take joint responsibility for the tasks at their workplace.
"Job sharing is anything than a mommy model. Of course - for me it's a great way to balance family and work. But beyond that, we benefit just as much as the Studierendenwerk from our dual expertise and our dual flexibility."
"We handle a wide range of tasks together - for this we coordinate intensively, keep each other permanently up to date. Both we and our superior know that good communication is everything. We rely on each other. And that's why we're free to focus on our private lives when we leave the office."
Martin Diehl and Peter Ochs are masters of patient inquiry. They not only look after servers and computers, hardware and software of the Studierendenwerk, but also users. When the phones of the two system administrators ring, anything is possible, from a question about a new headset to a major server failure. Then the main thing is to keep your nerve.
"Clearly - our job is never boring. When we start in the morning, we know: There's always something. Whoever calls us has an IT problem that prevents normal work. Then we have to take care of it. But first, we have to identify the problem. That can take time, because the users usually don't know anything about IT and will only describe symptoms ..."
"Corona has ensured that many of our colleagues work on the move, at least some of the time. This naturally raises questions about security and data protection, technical equipment and knowledge transfer. We answer these questions. And we do so in such a way that work processes function and security is guaranteed. To do this, you have to be able to deal not only with bits and bytes, but also with people."
Johanna Pannek has remained loyal to the Studierendenwerk after completing her training as an office administrator. She has been with the organization for 21 years, during which time she learned the ropes in accounting, the student housing department and the human resources department. Her heart, however, belongs to her current tasks as a clerk for legal and personnel matters.
"I felt completely at home here right from the start and still do. Especially because I'm responsible for two such different areas of work. On top of that, there's a great team that makes sure the work is still fun even when things get stressful."
Bettina Ruhl loves her job in the main cashier's office of the university's catering department. Here, she programs cash registers, prepares invoices and, together with her colleague, ensures that everything runs smoothly when guests pay in the dining halls and cafeterias. She never feels bored.
"Having fun at and with work motivates me and is very important to me. After my really good training, I have remained at Studierendenwerk to this day. The reason for this is that I found the right recipe for me: Take a nice team with good colleagues, a desire to take a curious look beyond one's own nose, the joy of networking, fun at work, the courage to use one's own mind, the ability to listen and a willingness to act. Put all that in the blender and mix it well, maybe change the list of ingredients a bit from time to time - bang, 36 years have passed and you're still happy with your work."
Sarah Mohrdieck is now Senior Marketing Manager (Text) in the communications department of a company in the construction and real estate industry. She gained her first professional experience in corporate communications from 2005 to 2008, when she worked in the communications team of the student union while studying Business American Studies. Today, Mohrdieck lives in Stuttgart with her husband and daughter.
„One day, there was this notice hanging on the cafeteria wall: Public relations temp for the Studentenwerk. Instinctively, I knew right away that this would be my dream job as a student. It was a stroke of luck that it actually worked out. From then on, I got to meet lots of new people on campus, interview them for the MensaZeitung and take their portraits. Interesting facts about advice, financing, food, housing and childcare had to be presented in an exciting way for students.
Not only did I have a lot of fun doing that and it helped me stretch my budget, but it also encouraged me in my future career choice: Whether as an editorial trainee, PR consultant or copywriter in corporate communications - I have remained true to writing and editorial work.“
Robin Hilka is starting out with an apprenticeship as a chef. His coaches are Tim Sichtermann as trainer and Adrian Krumme as supervisor. The three agree: with good food, you can make a lot of people very happy.
“I knew early on that I wanted to be a chef. After all, with good food you can make yourself and others happy. My father is also a chef and is the best example for me that cooking is fun and never boring. The Mensa is a large kitchen, so I can get to know the whole range of kitchen work. On top of that, there's a super nice team here that gave me a very warm welcome. And my supervisors Tim and Adrian are also great - they explain everything to me and always take time for me. The only thing I had to get used to was all the standing. Actually, after the first few days, my feet hurt a bit in the evenings..."
„We want our apprentice to learn not only the big kitchen basics, such as cutting, food know-how, hygiene and cooking techniques. Of course, we make him fit for the exams and make sure that he learns the trade from scratch - just last year, we won second place in the Achenbach Cup for the quality of our training. But we also want to motivate our apprentices to want more. To become even better and really take off. I have been a trained cook for twelve years, joined the Studierendenwerk two years after my apprenticeship and am now the kitchen manager of the “Moritz”. Through my work as a supervisor, I can pass on my own enthusiasm. We passionately love our work. And this passion is contagious."
Lisa Horn is an office management apprentice, Angelika Hieronimus her trainer. Their common goal: training that makes them fit for the future.
"After graduating from the University of Kassel, the Studierendenwerk was the perfect employer for my desired training. Every day I get to learn here from very helpful and friendly colleagues who - despite the impact of Corona - are preparing me optimally for my professional future. As a former student, I'm pleased to now be able to play a part in supporting students myself."
"Training is all about teaching the basics, boosting motivation and providing trainees with advice and support. A good degree paves the way and opens doors for the professional future. For me as a trainer, there is no better moment than when I can deliver the good news that a trainee has passed his or her final exams - I am almost as happy as my trainees."