Career Service

"You have to have the courage to go all out"

Nina Blume studies health economy and health management in her fifth semester at the University of Wuppertal - without her A-levels. In this "Career Story" she is going to report about her way that has brought her into the lecture hall.

"I wanted to become a musical actress", the 27-year-old Nina Blume from Oldenburg says. "My father is for more than 40 years a musician and took me with him from time to time, when he performed. I thought that was pretty cool", she tells.

Eventually, she started to act herself in a musical group for laymen and decided to practise Latin American dance as a high-performance sport. At one point, the many training sessions per week presented themselves in her educational problems: "After the 11th grade, I finished my school and therefore I have the extended secondary school certificate. I was not good in school." Back then, the dancing, the high-performance sport was more important for the schoolgirl. Instead of doing her homework, she went to her training: "Following this, my grades were bad. I had Italian and English as my intensive courses and in the Italian course there were not many people. Everyone except for me has made an exchange and therefore their Italian levels were very high. I could not keep up with that."

After leaving school, Blume at first considered musical schools, but she soon realised that the seats were very rare and very expensive. "Thousands apply for 15 for a place to study. There is an increasing number of children that are being promoted since their childhood, are able to perform ballett and many other dances and who take courses. I would not have been able to keep up with that. If you apply when your are already 20 years old, you are almost already too old. That is why I had to search for something else."

Medical-technical laboratory assistant in Magedeburg

She started to inform herself, used Wikipedia, the possibilities of the job center, asked in her circle of acquaintances and checked her interests and skills. "Medicine was always nice for me, but I could forget about that without my A-levels", she realizes. The care sector was not her thing. So she started to do her research. "Laboratory work was always interesting for me, I did an internship in this field back in school." This is how she finally found the apprenticeship medical-technical laboratory assistant (MTLA) "This was a jackpot", says Blume. The apprenticeship was connected to a move far away, because "in Oldenburg that MTA-school - a private school - would have costed money". The parents could not finance a private school, therefore the condition was: The apprenticeship should not cost money. "I found a school in Magdeburg with a free apprenticeship, because there they work in cooperation with the university hospital of Magdeburg." She finished her apprenticeship with good grades and overcame the up-coming challenges. "Luckily, there is an apprenticeship salary since this year for MTA. The financial problems and the time there were really tough."

First job in Hamburg

Blume finds her first job in Hamburg, moves again and works for three years in the free hanse town. "But after one year I already asked myself: Was this now everything?, she remembers herself. "Nothing new was coming. I internalized every work process and at one time it got too boring for me." After an intern change of departments into the micro biology and drinking water hygiene she worked autonomously for the time being. Over and over again she regretted that she did not do her A-levels. "But catching up my A-levels later did not work out. Hamburg is a typical metropolis, you work from the morning till the evening and even in the night. And when you have a job with 40 hours per week, you still work for 50-60 hours with overtime hours. Especially, when you work alone in the laboratory like I did. Due to many factors, I was not able to catch up my A-levels at an evening school since I worked in shifts because of the medicine."

The long way to Wuppertal

Blume searched for different ways and informs herself about study paths that are possible without her A-levels. She does her research on health sciences and searches for study designations. Thereby she notices, that similar study programs were partly named differently. "My studies, health economy and management is named e.g. in Osnabrück completly different, but has similiar modules. You have to look out very carefully for the modules of the study programs."

She specifically searches for study programs in which she can credit some of her courses out of her apprenticeship or out of her work experience. "As soons as I found universities at which I could enhance my technical knowledge, I looked at the universities in the sight of studying without A-levels." Each university handles it differently. There are national and federal guidelines, but additionally there are university-specidic guidelines. Basically, Blume would have gone to every university that would have accepted her, but "in the end, it was only the University of Wuppertal, that enabled me - concerning the application procedure and requirements - to take on my studies", she tells. She did not need additional internships or recommendatory letter.

In fact, the path to her application was not the easiest because she firstly had to find out the criteria that were expected from the applicants. The BAföG-claim was nerve-wrecking as well. For this, she had to compile the time she has worked full-time. "In my case, it was due to one single day, that should decide, whether I would get the support or not. This was really by a hair's breadth, otherwise eveything else would not have worked out. But the effort was worth it."

Staying abroad before her bachelor thesis

Blume has made it in the end. She is one of the few students, that got accepted in the subject of health economy without her A-levels. "According to my knowledge, two percent of the seats are available for professionals, Per year around 50 to 60 new students are being accepted for my study program. This means, there are only one to two seats free per year." By now, she studies in the fifth semester and wants to absolve an exchange semester in the summer, before she writes her bachelor thesis. "It was clearly the right decision. I am very happy that I am able to study. I would dare it at anytime again, even if you have a full-time job and you hence have to give up your financial security", she explains.

With regards to the question where her path is going to lead her to in the future, she answers: "I would like to get self-employed one day and I would like to step into the consultation for operational health management", she says self-confident. "You have to have to courage to got all out and you have to inform yourself." For the self-employment, she recognizes in the end "you also need a lot of courage and preferably a financial cushion. But I can imagine this for myself."

Uwe Blass (Interview on 21.11.2019)

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