In the article of "We are the DWS", a series to highlight the many contributions and achievements of our colleagues inside and outside DWS, we talk to Jessica Schröder, HR Business Advisor, based in Frankfurt.
Since 2004, Jessica has been committed to the "Patenschafts-Modell Offenbach", a sponsorship programme that brings together secondary school students in the suburbs of Frankfurt with experienced and professional mentors. The aim of the programme is to accompany, advise and support a student for a year - to help him or her find a training position or achieve a higher education qualification. The success is considerable, with both sides benefitting greatly from this set-up.
Jessica herself has been heavily involved in the programme. She has spent time approaching schools directly to talk about the initiative – and to encourage students to participate – as well as acting as a mentor herself, including to her Godchildren.
An important part of the Patenschafts-Modell is the annual training day called “Fit for Application”, which is organized in cooperation with the Offenbach Chamber of Commerce and Industry. On this day, the students learn about applications and the skills required to succeed in these processes. This is achieved through workshops, as well as one-on-one interviews or interview practice sessions between experienced professionals and the students – all of which Jessica has helped to coordinate and participate in.
"For the students, this day is very special because they know how much effort the organization is makings to ensure they feel valued and supported. Not only the individual interviews, but also the workshops and the certificate of participation are great tools for the students to have when applying for higher education or work experience.. Particularly for those applying for an apprenticeship – which are very competitive these days - this programme allows the students to differentiate themselves from others”, Jessica says.. Moreover, the programme is increasingly extending its help to foreign students who have recently moved to Germany and who are not familiar with the local education and training system. As Jessica points out, the Patenschafts-Modell is designed to provide plenty of opportunities for progress, and more importantly to ensure that all students from all backgrounds have equal opportunities.
For Jessica, personal engagement is key as she strongly believes that sharing knowledge and experience can help give young people better direction in their professional lives. She says,
"it is great to see how proud the students are of their certificates from the Patentschafts-Modell. It also makes me proud to see how my godchildren are going about their professional careers thanks to mentoring. Working together with students reminds me of how privileged we are to be educated and to have a career; as this is not always the case for all people in Germany. It's fulfilling to pass on knowledge and experience, especially to young people who are helped to gain a bit of clarity about their professional future".