Anna is in her fourth semester of the Process Engineering Paper and Biofibers course. Her appeal to all women: “The excuse that you can’t study this as a woman is wrong. It is incredibly funny […]. There are still very few women in the industry at the moment, which I think is a great pity. It would be great if a few more would dare and not be deterred by the fact that there are currently still so many men, because there are more and more women.”

Where are you from? Did you move here especially to study?

I come from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. That’s not that far away from Munich, but I moved here to the student dorm anyway.

How was the apartment search for you?

I got help from Nina Kohr, she helped with all questions and problems. She’s very committed with that. All paper students have the opportunity to contact her about finding a room and then they get help. I contacted her and immediately got a place in the dormitory in the student city, which is usually not that easy in Munich. I even have my own kitchen and bathroom.

How was it for you to move to a new big city?

It actually wasn’t hard at all. I made connections right at the beginning in the dorm and in my studies. Because it is a relatively small study program, there is an unbelievably good cohesion. You know everyone and help each other out, that’s very motivating.

What did you do before you started your studies?

I graduated from high school and then started studying right away.

What semester are you in? How much longer do you have to go?

I am currently still in my 4th semester. Now the practical semester is coming up.

What is planned for your internship semester?

I will start my internship on August 2nd at the company UPM in Schongau.

How did you find the internship?

The professors are very helpful. They always have ideas and contacts. I got in touch with the HR management through my professor because she knew a former student there. Because of the small industry, people know each other, so you can find a good internship very quick.

How many semesters do you have left?

The bachelor’s degree lasts seven semesters. That means I still have three semesters to go before I finish my bachelor’s degree. But I will definitely do my master’s degree after that. That will take another three semesters.

What made you decide that you wanted to do a master’s degree?

I just really like the program. I discovered it by chance, like most people who don’t have a family member working in the paper industry. I’m really excited about the course and it’s incredibly fun. I like the technical and practical aspects and that we also work so much in the labs.

So you found the degree program by chance. How did it come about?

I knew that I wanted to go in the technical direction. I was also very attracted to the topic of sustainability. However, just before I graduated from high school, I didn’t know at all what I should do and then I went to the university fair in Weilheim. Here I happened to walk past the IVP booth. I liked it right away because it was so unusual and I had never heard of it before. Everyone else always knew they wanted to study law or business. I didn’t want to go to such a big, anonymous study program. After the fair, I went to the study information day at the university and I liked it so much that I said I definitely wanted to do it.

Is the program very practical?

Yes, I think so. The first two semesters are the basic engineering studies. Not really like that here. But from the third semester on, all the internships start, and from then on you’re in the lab pretty much every week. In the fourth semester, we really had two internship days a week where we were actually in the lab all day. I think that you apply what you’ve learned very well.

 Are there any subjects that didn’t suit you so well?

Yes, you can generally say that the first two semesters are always a bit difficult. You just have the basic subjects like math, mechanics and thermodynamics. I have to say that the subjects like biogenic fibers are much more fun because you have a direct connection to them. In the beginning, we all supported each other and made each other persevere, so that you get through it. But it’s definitely worth it. It wasn’t just difficult, of course, but it’s drier than it is later on. Still, you need the basics, otherwise you won’t make it.

What is your favorite subject?

So far, I like biogenic fibers the best. This is taught by Professor Dr. Zollner-Croll. You can really relate to it. But it is also very chemical and there was a very good practical course, which I liked very much. So far it’s been the best subject, but I’m curious to see what else is to come.

 What are your plans after the master’s?

Actually, I don’t have any concrete plans yet. There are so many areas that interest me, so I can’t say yet where I want to go in the end. You can go into some areas, but let’s see where I end up after my master’s degree. I haven’t done any training before I started my studies, so I’m going to see which area I like best and I’m really looking forward to my internship.

What exactly will you be doing in your internship?

I will be in plant development. Since I haven’t had any training yet, I’ll spend the first six weeks going through the entire plant and getting to know all the departments and machines. After that, I’ll be given a project to supervise, with support of course. This will give me the opportunity to get to know all the departments.

Will you be moving for the internship?

I will get a company apartment in Schongau, where the factory is also located. During the week I will always be in Schongau and on weekends in Munich. I’ll keep my dorm room during that time. That’s not so far away.

 How was the change from school to university for you?

I thought it was great, I really liked it, from school to university. It’s just a completely different way of teaching. You’re more on your own and you can do what you want because it’s voluntary. No one is standing there the next day writing a surprising test and forcing you to stubbornly memorize something.

Of course, it has to be said that you already have to be able to do everything and be prepared for it in the exam period, but I find the learning itself at the university much nicer than at school.

How do you organize your studies? What do you find difficult?

I’m a relatively structured and organized person myself, so it actually wasn’t that difficult for me. Organization is important in studying because it’s a big personal responsibility to do something and when you do it. You have to manage it, not to start studying three days before the exams, but a bit before. But it’s all doable and you quickly get the hang of it. At the university there are an incredible amount of offers, my problem was a bit that I wanted to do everything. I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted to do because there were so many options. It almost became too much for me.

 How do you finance your studies?

I have been receiving a scholarship since I graduated from high school. I’m a scholarship holder at the Cusanuswerk, which is one of the state’s ten scholarships for gifted students. I also work as a student assistant in the lab. I work in our wet lab and examine fabric samples for different quality characteristics, such as the softness of papers. I really like that because I can apply what I’ve learned right away, and I’ve really been able to learn a lot by doing it myself, just by standing in the lab for a few hours a week. It’s really helpful for studying and I was really happy that I got to do that. Unfortunately, I’m done with that next week as well, because I’m going into my internship semester then.

How did you hear about this scholarship?

I was nominated for the scholarship by my school. Then there is a selection process that you have to go through and then you are accepted into the sponsorship. So I was sponsored from my first semester. It is also partly selected according to the course of study and I think I was a bit lucky with my particular course of study that I got it. The scholarship has to be extended once during my studies, my performance is checked again and then I get it until the end of my master’s degree.

What does success mean to you?

That I can be satisfied with what I have done and that what I have done has also brought something to other people.

What are your impressions of your studies?

I think the study program itself is just incredibly exciting and varied, because we have a lot of different subjects and look into a lot of different areas. I found that really great and that we always have different internships. I also think it’s great that there is such good communication among the students because we are so small. But there is also great communication with the professors, you just know them better in such a small study program.

To whom would you recommend this study program?

I think you have to be curious first and foremost. Of course, it’s not bad if you’re interested in technology. For me, the sustainable aspect was also very important for the study, which you can also cover very well with it. In addition, I can recommend it to people who don’t want to sit in a lecture with 600 other people and be bombarded with sound. We don’t have that. It’s a very informal course of study. You just get to know each other and I’m so happy about the people I’ve met. I’ve really grown to love them, so I’m almost a little sad that I won’t see them for a year. But we will definitely visit each other. So I think you make really really good friends just by seeing each other every day.

Who or what is your contact point for questions?

Basically my fellow students first, because if I don’t know, they usually do. When it comes to more important things, then our professors. They support us wherever they can.

Do you have contact with higher semesters? Is the communication good?

Yes, especially through the Aktivitas, an association of students of the paper and packaging technology course, you always have contact. I got to know the higher semesters relatively quickly, because there are always events where people meet. You can definitely exchange ideas there.

Would you say that the course is suitable for women?

Yes, definitely. We are now the first class that has more women than men. It is something special and people always ask about it. The excuse that you can’t study it as a woman is wrong. It’s incredibly fun, especially with all the other women. There are still very few women in industry at the moment, which I think is a shame. It would be great if a few more would dare and not be deterred by the fact that there are currently still so many men, because there are more and more women.

Do you do any volunteer work?

In my dorm, I’m a tutor. I am responsible for the social life in our dormitory, for the cohesion, for doing activities together and for involving the foreign students. In my house, for which I am responsible, 600 people live, but we are also four tutors and a very great team. That’s a lot of fun, but of course it also keeps you busy. In addition, I am in the Aktivitas, an association of students of our study program. Unfortunately, Corona has meant that we’ve been able to do rather less lately.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to bake, read and go swimming.

How often do you go home?

It varies. When there are exams, rather rarely, but usually once a month.