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From Bengaluru to Hannover

Abhishek Honnavalli Puttaiah from India is a Chemnitz University of Technology graduate who, with support from the university’s Career Service, has found employment in Hannover, with one of Germany’s largest automotive suppliers – however, getting there was a rocky path

Abhishek Honnavalli Puttaiah is ambitious. Although the 28-year-old from India had studied Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in his home country and found a good job, he wanted more. Machine learning is, in his eyes, the wave of the future. And that can be found in Germany, the “land of ideas”, according to Abhishek. “I did not want to look back on my life at the age of 60 with negative feelings about a missed opportunity. So in September 2014, I quit my well-paying job as a systems engineer in India, and applied for a masters degree in Germany. My family was 100 percent behind me.”

But then things took a turn. With allowance to study at a Germany already in hand, and after having transferred nearly 8,000 euros to Germany, the necessary student visa did not reach him in time for the enrolment deadline. The loss of his spot at the university was a personal low: “I was really depressed. Not only was my job gone, but also my money and this long-awaited study placement. I started to question everything. Maybe I had made wrong decisions.”

But the young man from India did not give up. He applied again in 2015, this time at Chemnitz University of Technology, and he got lucky: “Actually, my new employer in India wanted to send me to Germany for a project, however I did not want to throw away my dream. When I received confirmation from Chemnitz for admission into the Embedded Systems masters programme, I did not hesitate for a second.”

Liveable for students

In April 2015, Abhishek finally came to Germany and started his studies at the university. He is still happy about his choice of where to study: “Chemnitz has many great green spaces, which I liked to use for meditating. But the city as a whole is a very liveable place for students, it has low living costs and is quite clean,” he summarises. He also liked how close he was to campus: “Every day in India, I had to commute four hours from my home town to the university.”

Abhishek managed to complete all of his certifications in his first year of studies, and he successfully completed his research project and wrote his master’s thesis in Braunschweig at IAV GmbH. Along the way, he was accompanied by Chemnitz University of Technology’s Career Service: “From the very beginning, I thought about entering the workforce in Germany. In India, many students are already being wooed by firms during their studies. Here, that does not seem to be that common. That made it all the more important for me to take the initiative myself and be active,” he explains. Shortly after his arrival in Chemnitz, he visited the ChemCon (now TUCconnect) career fair, took his first application photos, and got to know Career Service, who he would regularly visit. “That was the start of my professional career in Germany,” he says proudly.

He attended useful workshops and participated in excursions that were offered. In his shared apartment, he made a “vision board”, posing various companies, visions and career goals. “Each time I went to Career Service, I brought back new material. The whole flat was filled with it. Many friends visited just to see my vision boards. Above all, they were great motivation for me to continue to believe in my goals and develop my skills,” he says.

Career Service gave valuable support – and he successfully entered the workforce

Together with employees from Career Service, he optimised his application documents and improved his German language skills. In 2017, he completed his master’s degree with a grade of “good”. He sent out nearly 200 applications, initially without success. Finally, a bit of coincidence helped him. “On the way back from a job interview in Munich, I met an employee of Continental on the train. I told him about my previous experience in machine learning. He showed great interest in my application and qualifications, and no less than a week later, I had an interview.”

Today, Abhishek Honnavalli Puttaiah works in Hannover at Continental, as a data engineer. With his know-how, he should be able to help improve tire performance – a dream job for him. Without the help of Career Service, he says, he would not be where he is at today: “We worked together on my documents, over and over. I received many helpful tips, for example, how to be confident in a job interview, or what a perfect CV should look like. And I always felt welcome.”

He advises other students to regularly use Career Service: “Be sure to visit the career fairs and make initial contact with companies! You can also get to know companies via excursions. Workshops and information gathered at events can be very helpful when preparing to start your career. Become active yourself, and believe in yourself and your abilities.”

(Author: Maria Hauschild / Translation: Jeffrey Karnitz)

Matthias Fejes

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