Case studies Ronny, the diligent one
Ronny, the diligent one
Ronny, the diligent one

Ronny, the diligent one (6)

Motto: It was a stony way, but in the end it paid out.

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

Ronny, (23, male) is currently undergoing his studies (Social work) at a “Berufsakademie” (BA; this is a three years course combining phases of attendance at the university and practical periods at a non-profit organisation, in his case: a nursery school). The periods alter every 3 months. Due to this dynamic study scheme, he is currently moving between many places: the town of his traineeship, the University town, his girlfriend´s place and his home town where he lives with his parents.

Transitions

Educational and transitional pathways

After achieving his higher education entrance qualification with some difficulty (he repeated the 12th grade and graduated only with “sufficient”), Ronny originally planned to do his Civilian Service (as an interim vocational solution) but was rejected due to health issues. Forced to make a quick decision, he started studying Sociology for one term, only to find out that this was too theoretical for him. He stopped this study and decided to apply for social work studies at a BA. In order to bridge the gap until the start of the new studies, he went for a traineeship at a kindergarden. There, he was offered a “Voluntary Social Year” for six months which then was extended to 1,5 years when he got refused from the BA and had to wait for the next year to reapply.

Ronny really enjoyed the “Voluntary Social Year” for several reasons: he liked working with children and valued the possibility to gain work experience. Moreover, he appreciated this as a last minute job option since he would have had no alternative idea what to do. Ronny successfully reapplied at the BA the next year and is studying since then. He experiences his current studies as a demanding and stressful time. He can think of various options for his vocational future. On the on hand he would like to continue studying in order to achieve a certificate in Psychology but on the other hand he is keen to start working. In the latter case, he thinks of combining work with further qualification in evening courses or weekend course. In the long term, he would prefer to work rather in Social work/Streetwork than in the nursery field.

Summarizing, he describes his transition process as “stony”, and accompanied by fears and doubts.

Motivations and Strategies

Ronny was anxious to manage his labour market integration. He was driven by his fear of failure as well as the pressure of parents and the perceived pressure of society (feeling that others are more successful than him and faster in their tracks). His strategy to compensate this pressure was to get very active and to write many applications, thus creating situations of success (job interviews, several contract offers). Ronny is restrained in his current decisions by financial barriers as he does not want to continue with his current precarious status as a student (he is eligible to an insufficient amount of student loans) and rather tends to start working in order to earn money and to become financially independent.

Ad hoc learning scenarios

Re-orientation, exploring a new field of interest and waiting for a study place

After finishing school, Ronny had no concrete idea what to do. This only concretised after his short study period when he noticed that he does not like the theoretical focus of Sociology (the topic he had chosen rather by chance). As a consequence, he looked for more practice-oriented schemes. Dropping out from studies was a difficult step to take. He felt particularly bad about doing this because of not having an alternative perspective. He was afraid of losing time. Information research turned out to be complicated. Finally, he found out about the practice-oriented studies at the BA. One condition for getting a study place at a BA is to have a contract with an organization that offers a traineeship place for the practical periods of the study. Still, there is high competition for these places. Nevertheless, Ronny placed enormous efforts into this by applying to 80 organisations for a study-accompanying traineeship (with the result of 2 contracts). Ronny was unsuccessful at his first attempt to apply for a place at the BA. Instead of giving up and looking for an alternative, he decided to accept a “voluntary social year” (a common voluntary scheme in Germany) as an interim solution. He kept applying for organizations as traineeship venues and had 4 contracts when approaching the BA in the following year. His perseverance - “Sticking with it” - proved to be successful.

Today, he is more confident regarding his competencies and his plans. He has concrete perceptions of his job future which involves youth work/Street work or social worker in a hospital (with a more psychological focus). Also, he is ready to invest more time and effort into his carreer by continuing learning.

Work experience and earning money versus further qualification

His transition process is largely influenced by monetary considerations and the self-expectation of being useful and productive to society as well as by fervor of continuing learning and finding a working field satisfying to him in the long term. On the one hand, Ronny thinks it is time to start working and earn his living after having been short of money since leaving school. On the other hand, he would like to further qualify in the field of Psychology in order to widen his job perspectives and to meet his interests. Facing these contradictory options, he is currently looking for ways to combine both.

Support Services used

Ronny used his social network to a large extent in order to manage his transitions. Ronny´s traineeship is on a voluntary basis and his student loan only small. Without the financial support of his parents he would not be able to afford his studies. However, this support is connected with considerable pressure on him to start something productive. His parents not only contribute financially but also helped by scheduling dates with the Employment agency, with applying for funds and jobs. Valuable help came from the staff of the Kindergarden, Ronnys work place in the “Voluntary Social Year”, especially from his boss. He received advice as well as helpful contacts to universities and other organisations. In these conversations with his more advanced colleagues, Ronny played a very active role and asked them all questions he could think of in order to gain as much information as possible. Other social resources were his friends by exchanging experiences and information with him.

His main information sources were internet sites (especially those of universities) as well as the Employment Agency. However, both were rated as intransparent and too general in their information provision. “If you don´t have a clue you do not know what to do with the information. Once you know more it starts to make sense”. What Ronny lacked was concrete facts to help him during his orientation process; “somebody who just tells me what vocational options are in place, where can I do this and what requirements are there to get it”. There has been insufficient information on the nature of studies available. Ronny expected Sociology to be something similar to social work and, thus, made a mistake in his career choice. He proposes that places where young people spend their free time (e.g. Youth Clubs and Sports Clubs) should integrate low-threshold vocational orientation on a voluntary basis in their everyday work with the young people. In his opinion, those “natural” and incidental forms of occupational orientation are more beneficial then the artificial ways as those of the Employment Agency.

Learning type

Exploring practical fields (voluntary social year, studies) has told Ronny the most about his preferences. As another success criteria Ronny names self initiative and strong engagement for the own career (actively looking for the right information, finding out about options and making decisions).

Social learning has played a significant role. Ronny has shared experiences with peers and by doing this has learned about new options e.g. the BA studies. Apart from peers, he used intergenerational contacts (colleagues at the “voluntary social year, consultants at universities) to gain information and to proceed in his transitions.

Information and Communication Technologies

Internet was the major information source for Ronny (google, key words, websites of Universities). Once he has done a test that resulted in proposals on matching vocational options which proved to be not helpful. Ronny rates himself as being fit in internet usage but not so much concerning software.

Suggestions towards G8WAY

Asked for features a support portal for young people in transitions should provide, he suggested: - descriptions of all job professions as a compact profile, connected with advice on where to find regional/national providers - Information “at one glance”

In the dialogue with the interviewer, Ronny discussed that the difficulty for students at the beginning of their vocational orientation process is that they do not know which questions to ask, which key words to insert in google, what pages to click. There should be a checklist of keywords and key questions as well as tips regarding the management of information overload.