September 29, 2021
Assuming responsibility in companies early on in your studies? With the right expertise, this is possible. Since the beginning of September, Stefan Krstevski has been leading a team of ten freelancers at the Hamburg-based company Container xChange. The 21-year-old, who is studying Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) at English-speaking Jacobs University, has great potential – and promising plans for the future.
"For a second-year student to be offered such a position is quite extraordinary," said Hendro Wicaksono, Professor of Industrial Engineering at Jacobs University, who recommended to Stefan the position at Container xChange. "You need very good knowledge and skills in data analysis, management, and logistics like we teach in our IEM degree program," explained the professor.
Stefan describes himself as curious and ambitious, attributes that contribute to him speaking six languages: Turkish, Serbian and Bulgarian in addition to German, English and Macedonian. "I always give 100 percent. Sometimes I stress myself out too much, which is my biggest fault," he admitted. To the best of his ability, he does his work at Container xChange. The company is like an Airbnb of the container industry that aims to minimize container vacancies by bringing together suppliers and customers worldwide. "Being able to work as a lead research student for a logistics technology company that is the best in its field is a great opportunity for me," he mentioned.
The online bed retailer, Mister Sandman, where Stefan recently completed a three-month internship in Berlin, was also convinced of his potential and entrusted him with a great deal of responsibility from day one. Sifting through orders every day, analyzing them and forwarding them to the various departments – that was part of his job at Mister Sandman. Stefan dealt with data analysis, as well as optimizing processes within the supply chain and with reports. The mattresses and bedding that the company sells come from a wide variety of manufacturers. The supply chain must be constantly monitored and optimized as much as possible. He even developed his own online data management and tracking program for this purpose. "What I learn in my studies is needed in just about every company. I'm guaranteed employment," he said with a laugh.
Raised in the Republic of North Macedonia and Bad Kreuznach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Stefan graduated from the international Yahya Kemal College in Skopje, the capital of the southern European country. He then went to the United States for a year. "I was 17, and everyone from my school wanted to go to a university in the States, so I just followed the trend," he said. On the ground, he quickly realized that it wasn't a good fit: "That's why I went back to Germany. I like Germany, I feel at home here."
He looked around Germany for a place to study. He knew Jacobs University through his cousin, who had studied at the international university himself, and now is a successful programmer. Therefore, it was no question that he would apply there. "The university opens a lot of doors, it is internationally renowned and a great stepping stone," Stefan said. He chose the IEM major because he wanted to learn more about how a product is created, from start to finish. "I'm interested in the flow of information and goods. IEM imparts knowledge in various fields: manufacturing, production planning and control, logistics, data analysis in the context of production, but also in management. It's very interdisciplinary and we have great professors and faculty who are always approachable and supportive."
Stefan began his studies in late summer 2019. "The first semester was very nice. I made friends quickly, felt comfortable from the beginning," he said. Then Corona came along, and it was over with teaching in person. Instead, online teaching became the new normal: "We tried to make the most of it, just meeting in small groups."
In addition to his studies, Stefan trained as an intercultural trainer and acted as a peer counselor for a group of about a dozen first-year students. "That was a great experience. You support them in many ways, familiarize them with the university rules and German culture. I also learned a lot about their respective countries and their cultures." He is also working as a teaching assistant for two supply chain graduate courses at Jacobs University: Data Analytics in Supply Chain Management and Smart Cities and Transportation Concepts.
Next summer, the 21-year-old will graduate from Jacobs University with a bachelor's degree. Stefan would not be Stefan if he did not already have a plan for the time after that. He wants to do a master's degree in industrial engineering at Cambridge University, one of the best universities in the world, and follow it up with a doctorate. He does not fear the competition for limited spots: "I have great support from my friends and my professors."
This text is part of the series “Faces of Jacobs,” in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors, and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.