Sandra Basche successfully studied in the MINTgrün pre-study orientation program at Technische Universität Berlin in winter semester 2017/2018 and summer semester 2018. She started an Industrial Engineering and Management degree in winter semester 2018/19. Here she discusses here experiences of the MINTgrün program as well as her degree.
Why did you choose to do a pre-study orientation program?
After finishing school, I did a work & travel program in Australia for a year and I actually thought I knew what I wanted to study. But actually I only really knew what I didn’t want to do. So I decided to do an orientation program to see what really interests me. Another reason for choosing this orientation program was that I wanted to stay in Berlin.
The MINT subjects were the ones I focused on for my school-leaving exams. If I had had the choice, I would have liked to carry on doing all subjects to the end, but we had to focus on one particular area. I knew I wanted to do something in the area of science and technology so it made sense for me to focus on that area. I attended a lot of fairs back then and I can still recall that the MINTgrün orientation program at TU Berlin was mentioned a lot. Initially I applied for something else but I wasn’t really convinced that was what I wanted. But anyway they turned me down, which didn’t turn out to be so bad either. That gave me a bit of time and I applied for the MINT orientation program.
What are the similarities and differences between an orientation program and a degree?
They are similar but you have more close support and supervision in the MINTgrün program. Christian Schröder, the contact person, is very approachable. You can also contact him outside of his office hours if you really need to and he answers all your questions and can really help and provide support. Now I am studying Industrial Engineering and Management and again there are plenty of people you can turn to for help, but in the MINTgrün program everything is on a much more personal basis. Everyone knows each other, it is like a community or one big family.
Now you are a student mentor yourself. What do you most like about that?
When you start out, you don’t really have any experience and need someone to help you. I want to share my experience and say: “Look here I am, I can help you. I went through the same situation myself and now I am a bit wiser. Ask me anything you like.” I found this approach helped me and I want to help others in the same way.
Can you tell us three things about the MINTgrün program that make it special for you?
I like the fact that you are together with a lot of other students who are in the same position and don’t really know what they want to do. Another thing is that you are free to try out different options and you are not restricted in what you can do. Sure, there is a general schedule which you should more or less follow, but actually you are pretty much free to try everything once. What I also liked were the project labs where you can acquire practical knowledge.
Did you have a favorite course in the MINTgrün program?
I particularly enjoyed the “Creativity and technology” project lab. We started by making a drawing and then later attempted to bring this to life in the workshop, using materials we bought at the DIY store - so plenty of sawing and screwing, and hoping our project would turn out as we planned. I also did an economics module in balance sheets and accounting. That was really good. It was fairly theoretical, there was a lot of math and I had to do a lot of work after the lectures, but I am really interested in economics and math so I enjoyed it a lot.
Is that why you chose to study Industrial Engineering and Mathematics?
I did the balance sheet and accounting module in the second semester as I wanted to use the opportunity to try out an economics module. Originally I didn’t plan to do anything with economics as politics isn’t really my thing. But doing this module changed my mind. It was Academic Advising that put me on to the Industrial Engineering and Management degree. It was actually presented to us as the start of the MINTgrün program but it didn’t really register with me back then. But then I decided to take advantage of another advising session after I had a better idea of what interested me and that is when they suggested Industrial Engineering and Management. “With the management component, that could be just the thing for you,” they told me. The contents of the degree program were actually explained in detail in the MINTgrün Wissenschaftsfenster module (a module where the various academic chairs present their areas of research and degree programs - ed.). Then I found out more about the program and that was the smart thing to do. My tip for prospective students is to always seek advice.
Did the time spent doing the MINTgrün program help you with your choice of degree?
Yes. The combination of orientation module, the chance to find out about the various chairs and their degree programs, the academic advising program, and the opportunity to talk to other students proved really important in finding out what I wanted to study later.
What makes TU Berlin special for you?
I grew up in a village and l always wanted to live in a city again. I also wanted to be in Berlin so that I would be close to my family in Brandenburg. I wanted to study something in the area of technology and TU Berlin is of course very strong in this regard. The professors are real experts in their fields. I really liked that and the fact the the University offers the MINTgrün program. I came here with a friend and I was won over immediately.
How did your first semesters go?
My first semesters went very well. I have been able to develop my knowledge of the fundamentals and am currently spending one-and-a-half semesters in Sweden through an Erasmus program doing some economics and IT modules to deepen my understanding in these areas.
Do you still feel your decision to study Industrial Engineering and Management was the right one?
I am very happy with the choice I made. I am still really passionate about the economics modules, something which I would never have thought before doing MINTgrün. At the moment I am really interested in developing my knowledge in an international environment, which is why I decided to do an Erasmus program.
Did doing the MINTgrün program help you in your degree?
The MINTgrün program gave me a slight headstart over other students, but this was only something you could see in the different choices I made in my schedule. I had had the chance to try out a few modules in advance which means I know I made the right choice in terms of degree subject. Industrial Engineering and Management offers a number of elective modules to enable you to deepen your focus. So you can also check out your options throughout your degree and choose subject areas which interest you.