NextGen Program empowers students in Germany with real-world experience

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August 09, 2022

NextGen real-world experience: 3 college students gathered around a table, one with an open laptop

One of the major problems facing the tech industry today is a shortage of workers with the needed skills and experience. This can lead to two undesirable situations:

  1. Recent graduates find it difficult to apply their knowledge when they enter the workforce.
  2. Businesses waste valuable time (and money) training new hires.

To address these issues, the NextGen Program, a ServiceNow initiative, works with ServiceNow partners, customers, and educational institutions worldwide. The goal is to equip participants with skills that will allow them to access new career opportunities in the digital economy.

At the Technical University of Munich (TUM), students undergo six weeks of training in the NextGen Program before engaging in corporate scenarios with ServiceNow customers.

“We designed this course so that students acquire theoretical and practical knowledge on real-world information systems, such as the Now Platform,” explains TUM Professor Helmut Krcmar. “By combining thorough trainings and practical challenges from German companies, we equip students with all hard and soft skills that they need in the future job market.”

By combining thorough trainings and practical challenges from German companies, we equip students with all hard and soft skills that they need in the future job market. - Helmut Krcmar, Professor, Technical University of Munich


Bridging the experience gap

Nils Stukenbrok, a senior digital solution consultant at ServiceNow, graduated from college three years ago. “In my experience, university is often too much theory and not enough practical experience,” he says.

“What people forget is many university students haven’t actually worked with real company information systems, which are huge and often overwhelming,” adds Martin Kauschinger, a teaching assistant at TUM.

“For example, you can easily add a new field or rule in a simulation, but if you do that in the real-world production environment, you’ll likely upset a few million records in the process,” he says. “It can be very difficult for students to adapt to that.”

In collaboration with NextGen, Kauschinger and his teaching team are working to bridge this experience gap by giving students opportunities to work on solutions for real scenarios.

“We teach them that in a real-world company scenario, things are different,” he says. “We have them working to corporate regulations on tight deadlines and give them actual responsibility over the project, just as an employer would in the real world.”

Reaping results

The positive change Kauschinger sees in students taking part in the program speaks for itself. “It’s really great for their confidence,” he says. “And it’s lovely to see—not just for us at the university, but for our corporate partners. They’re always surprised to see what a young, motivated team can deliver when empowered to do so.”

The course is designed with ServiceNow partners and potential employers, such as Bayer and Merck, in mind. That means it’s customizable and can be tweaked each year to suit the ever-changing needs of the industry.

We have them working to corporate regulations on tight deadlines and give them actual responsibility over the project, just as an employer would in the real world. - Martin Kauschinger, Teaching Assistant, Technical University of Munich


“Last year, we made sure to include two challenges that centered around building service portals, because we knew it was the central focus for our partners at the time,” Kauschinger explains.

“One of the main reasons partners are so keen to get involved is to get access to these highly skilled students,” he adds. “Last semester, one single company hired approximately half of the students. It’s a great opportunity for these young people to boost their job prospects.”

Preparing for a better future

One partner, CANCOM, confirmed it will integrate into its portal interface at least one of the solutions created by NextGen students.

“The students demonstrated the value of the Now Platform UI framework to our organization with a working prototype,” notes Ronny Staude, a CANCOM solution architect.

“We plan to use this prototype as a blueprint for our migration from the Service Portal to the new technology. It was exciting to see what is already possible without it even being released or documented for this use.”

For Stukenbrok, this fulfills the true aim of the initiative. “I want to give students a better opportunity to build their practical experience than I had,” he says. “The solutions they’re creating are of such high quality, and they’re so valuable. It’s great to see that companies pick this up and run with it.”

Find out more about how you can be part of the NextGen Program and help create a better future.

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