One of the core objectives at Witten/Herdecke University is to stimulate an entrepreneurial mindset, based on an intensive exploration of scientific theories on the one hand, and personal job experience on the other. The company mentorship concept at Witten/Herdecke University opens fundamentally new ways of cooperation between theory and practice. It permits students to integrate practical work experience into their studies during semesters as well as in lecture-free periods. They reflect their job experience in accompanying modules at UW/H which serve to compare theoretical knowledge to the expertise acquired in practice. Students frequently come up with novel ideas and suggestions to take back to the company, so that both sides profit from the arrangement.
Integration of theory and practice
The company mentorship concept is an integral part of studies at Witten/Herdecke University. Students of economics and of philosophy & culture acquire job experience in a company of their choice. They reflect upon this experience against the background of theoretical knowledge. Course content is immediately correlated with what they do and learn in the mentor company. Thus students develop an understanding of the relevance of theoretical expertise and research findings for practice, and learn to subject personal experience to critical analysis and debate.
How to find a partner
Student and mentor company must be suited to each other to make a relationship work. Witten/Herdecke University invites partner companies to the so called Marriage Market twice per year for two days respectively, where they meet students in a relaxed and confidential atmosphere. They discuss internships, specific projects or even job offers after graduation, and sound out all options of a relationship.
The idea behind the Marriage Market at Witten/Herdecke University is not to create lifelong bonds, but ideally to facilitate long-term fruitful relations between people who are suited to each other and have similar objectives. Both sides get to know each other and look for common interests, inclinations and attitudes. Conventional formats such as recruiting events or job fairs do not capture the quality of this Marriage Market: personality is what counts. Instead of numerous fleeting encounters or formal assessments, this event rather focuses on extensive conversations to find the perfect match.
The event is open to economics students from their very first semester. The concept promotes a practical, entrepreneurial approach and encourages students to think outside the box. Graduates are pleased to use the Marriage Market as an opportunity to look for career openings. The invited partner companies welcome the chance to recruit excellenty educated juinior staff.
Talks in confidential atmosphere
Traditionally, first semester students and the Campus Relations team jointly organize the evening event in the great lecture hall. Students gain first hands-on experience with project management and get immediate feedback as participants of the meeting. Approximately 50 companies of various size and from different sectors attend each year. Instead of booths or stands, they find stylishly laid tables and plenty of seating in a cosy atmosphere, further enhanced by culinary treats. The Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management and the director of the Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) open the meeting, followed by a short presentation of each attending company including a profile and description of job openings.
Marrying a family business
Presentations are short to allow ample time for subsequent conversation. Students enquire about details of projects, internships and job offers. One of the two evenings is reserved for family businesses to underline the attraction of medium-sized family firms as prospective employers; the WIFU acts as a co-organizer of these meetings.
Economics student Matthias Freese welcomes the Marriage Market as an excellent opportunity to develop career perspectives in personal conversation with business representatives, which he mainly attributes to the individual atmosphere: “In contrast to other job fairs, there is enough time for intensive dialogue.” Numerous UW/H alumni return to Witten for the Marriage Market, either as independent entrepreneurs or representatives of a mentor company, to look for young talents.
The Marriage Market can be the launching point for a relationship between a mentor company and a student. Students are free to cultivate this relationship for one day per week during semesters, and also in lecture-free periods. It is up to them to arrange the modalities – duration, subject, payment – with the company in question. Anything goes. An arrangement with a specific mentor company may cover the major part of a student’s studies and lead to employment after graduation, or may end after conclusion of an internship or project and leave the student free to contact another firm.