The Projektstudium is an initiative from the Münster University of Applied Sciences’ business school to provide management students practical, real life work experiences. It is a one semester elective discipline inside the business management curricular program where small groups of students work with a real problem from a real company. ‘Problems’ are normally associated to changes/improvements in internal processes from the partner company.
The project cycle
In the Projektstudium, students first attend to seminars and workshops at the Business School on change management and project management. In the second stage, they work in close connection with a partner company 2-3 days per week, where they must gather data an apply business concepts in order to provide a solution to a specific problem. During and after the activity, students are evaluated based on interims and final presentation to the company as well as through an oral examination. During the whole activity, the students are supported by a coach from the business school and at least one point of contact in the company. Through Projektstudium, it is expected that students not only improve their understanding over the practical application of business theory, but also to acquire transversal competences such as problem-solving, communication, and intercultural skills.
New model of student internship
The Projekstudium distinguishes itself from a traditional internship in many forms. First, it offers the students the possibility to work, as a group, in a specific complex problem, suited to meet specific learning objectives. Second, the Projekstudium foresees a weekly support from an academic staff, which, although not always present in traditional internships, has proven to be very helpful, according to interviewed students. Third, prior to engaging with the company’s activities, the students must attend to seminars in project management, change management and other soft skills such as oral communication. Lastly, students need to present their outcomes multiple times, not only to academics, but also to the company top management.
Increased chances of employability
The Projekstudium works in close cooperation with companies within the ‘Münsterland’ region, which offer not only the problems to be worked on but also facilities such as a workstation, a computer and support from at least one employee directly connected with the project. More than one project is conducted simultaneously at each semester, therefore requiring cooperation with multiple companies.
A number of positive impacts were portrayed during the interviews with academics, students and company employees. According to the responses, transversal skills where particularly fostered, with students emphasizing improved presentation skills, organization of work activities, team work, and intercultural competences. Furthermore, employability of students is positively affected, either in the form of a future work/internship contract with the partner organization and due to the certificate issued by the company which, in Germany, is considered an important asset to the curriculum.
A more detailed analysis on the initiative will be published by S2B Marketing Research Center as a case study report in the following months, among other WEXHE deliverables.