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I got SAP education but no real-world experience

I graduated last year with the University Alliance SAP certification - after completing three courses: Functional,...

implementation, and ABAP (with grades: A, A, A-). I also have a year of experience working as a Teaching Assistant for those three classes. All of the classes are hands-on, however they are limited to the classroom project scale. The implementation we did are on a demo server and a bit of configuration in FI, SD, MM, and PP modules. I have difficulties finding an SAP job, the majority will tell me that I do not have enough 'real world' experiences. Well, it is very hard to 'get the experience' if no one provides me that 'real world hands-on experiences'. I'm getting frustrated because I really have high motivation to be in this industry. Could you please tell me what would be the best methodology to get into SAP industry with my current situation?


I can understand your frustration. Anyone in the IT or e-business field will tell you that the first couple of years after graduating from college are the toughest. You need that all-important "first break" in order to escape the "need experience to get a job" cycle. Unfortunately, you may have been given the impression that if you completed the SAP university program, you'd have little trouble getting a great job right after graduation.

But the market has changed quite a bit since SAP's university program was first conceived. We are now in the midst of an economic downturn, and it's always harder to enter the workforce in a downturn, regardless of your field. It's also important to understand that SAP's college programs were really designed to generate knowledgeable young consultants for firms like Anderson Consulting. You probably see where I'm heading with that. The consulting industry is going through some real tough times right now, and only the most experienced SAP consultants - five years of project experience and more - are doing ok in the current market climate. And even some of these folks are having trouble.

So you have your work cut out for you. You've probably already tried to apply directly to SAP, but if you haven't done that, you should definitely give it a shot. SAP has been taking on more of its own consulting services, and of course SAP has a lot of non-consulting positions as well. The way I see it, they're practically obligated to hire the young talent that they encouraged at the university level. Let's see if they can back it up.

Since there are very few junior-level SAP positions out there right now, you might continue to have difficulty breaking in to the field. If you really have trouble landing the right kind of position, you might want to consider further schooling - perhaps some type of MBA e-business or MIS program. You're young enough that a couple more years in school won't interrupt your hands-on work experience, and you might emerge two years later into a better economy with more credentials to boot. If you go that route, just make sure that you find a graduate program that emphasizes the latest business and technology know-how. It's just a thought, but you need to keep all your options open. If you do land a job - no matter what the field - make sure it is challenging for you and not just a "post-graduate burger flipping" position. You're much better off back in school than simply treading water in non-challenging fields. But if you have a chance to get your feet wet, doing almost anything challenging with the prospects for growth, go for it. You can worry about tying it in with SAP later.


This was last published in September 2002

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