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The search for an appropriate training programme or the right university course begins with you. If you are aware of your strengths and know what really interests you, you can work out what suits you. The following indicators aim to help you to identify your strengths and interests.
Subjects that you enjoy at school and are good at reveal something about your abilities and interests. Therefore, ask yourself which subjects suit you particularly well. Are you interested and gifted in mathematics? Then perhaps a technical course is right for you, for example mechanical engineering or computer science. Or you could choose a commercial training programme, for example as an industrial clerk or an office management assistant. If you find learning foreign languages easy, training to become a foreign language correspondent or a degree in languages or linguistics could suit you.
Then you can consider your interests outside school. What do you do when you have time for yourself? Whether you enjoy reading and writing, playing sport, computer programming or looking after your family, these activities can also tell you a lot about yourself.
Perhaps you have even had some initial practical experience, for example in your parents’ business or as a temporary employee at another company. Did you enjoy the work or was it not right for you? This is another way of working out what activities suit you and what occupations you can imagine pursuing. And what you definitely do not want to do.
You can also get practical experience in Germany, in the form of internships, as far as the coronavirus pandemic allows. If you would like to get practical insights into a training occupation or a career associated with a university course, you can apply for an internship at a company.
There are tests that evaluate your interests and strengths and suggest suitable areas of activity or university courses. Furthermore, many universities offer self-assessments, which ascertain your suitability for a particular course. You can do most of the tests online. Before you get started, you should find out whether the test costs something. There are a number of free tests on offer.
These include Check-U – das Erkundungstool der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the Federal Employment Agency's self-evaluation tool). These online tests will help you to work out which university course or training programme is right for you. There are four modules, in which you identify your abilities, your social skills, your interests and your career preferences. Depending on your selections, you will receive suggestions for appropriate areas of study or training occupations.
The MySkills test helps you to demonstrate any existing professional skills. You are given technical questions in the form of texts, images and videos about an occupation in which you already have experience. 30 occupations are available for selection.
The check.work test (Module 1: Practice), which also enables you to demonstrate that you already have professional experience, takes a slightly different approach. By selecting images and answering technical questions, you demonstrate that you are familiar with a particular occupation and with particular activities. You can enclose the assessment with your application documents or bring it with you to career advice interviews. Or you can complete “Module 2: Potential” and identify your skills, for example logical thinking, creativity or the ability to work in a team. Check.Work is offered by a range of professional associations, job centres and educational institutions.
You can find further information and links to the tests under the heading Orientieren > Was will ich? Was kann ich? > Testverfahren (Navigation > What do I want? What are my abilities? > Testing procedures).
Another important aspect is discussions with other people, for example your family and (new) friends. Ask them what they think of you. What characteristics and strengths do they say that you have? In their eyes, are you resilient and responsible? Do you have good communication skills and an ability to work in a team? Are you good with your hands or are you more comfortable with organisation? Compare what others say about you with what you think about yourself.
You can also get advice for professionals about university courses and training programmes that suit your interests and strengths. The employment agencies’ career advisors are available for a personal interview. You can read more about this in Step 5: Who will support me if I need help?
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