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Barkhausen Institut

FJN at the Barkhausen Institut

As of September 2020, the Barkhausen Institut offers a Voluntary Social Year in Science, Technology and Sustainability (FJN).

The FJN-volunteers at the Barkhausen Institut become part of the Open Lab, which is dedicated to science communication with young people and adults. Together with our scientists, they develop workshops in the fields of computer science and electrical engineering and supervise them with the support of our educators. In this way, they learn about different fields of study and experience the work of researchers at first hand.

The FJN is a special form of voluntary social year in which people between the ages of 16 and 26 can get a taste of practical experience for twelve months in a public service-oriented placement. The participating volunteer positions are in the fields of information technology, engineering, nature studies, environmental and climate protection, and knowledge transfer.

We took the upcoming departure of our current FJN student Jan Bersheim as an opportunity to do an interview with him on his personal experience at the BI.


What excites you about the concept of the FJN - Voluntary Year in Science, Technology and Sustainability?

I think the Voluntary Year in Science, Technology and Sustainability makes a lot of sense for young people who are undecided as to which career path they want to pursue after leaving school. It's the perfect way to gain a deeper insight into certain fields without already starting an apprenticeship or a graduate degree. And when will you ever be as free and independent in life as you are at this point?

Why did you decide to do this?

Initially, I wanted to go abroad for a year after graduating from high school, but unfortunately that was very difficult due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, I wanted to take a little break from cramming and not study directly. Therefore, I started to look for an alternative. I first had a voluntary social year in mind. However, since I am more technically inclined, I wanted to go in that direction. When I came across the FJN concept by chance, it was the perfect fit.

How should we imagine the everyday life of an FJNer?

My work at the BI is very multifaceted and offers lots of exciting new challenges. I am involved in a wide variety of projects: I support the OpenLab in organizational and educational issues, the Connected Robotics Lab with technical assistance, and I host and co-organize the "Code and Play" project. I especially appreciate that during my time as an FJNer I have been able to explore and expand my competencies as well as my skills. I am often confronted with tasks from subject areas in which I had little experience before. It usually takes a while to learn the ropes, but it's worth it! Working with team members from a wide range of disciplines is also special. In the beginning, it was not so easy to communicate my information and ideas in such a way that everyone actually understood what I meant. In the process, my comfort zone has expanded enormously, which will make the start into my professional future much easier!

Why did you choose the Barkhausen Institute for your volunteer work?

I have always been interested in robotics, microcontroller technology and IoT systems. The fact that I can actually work on these topics in a professional setting and develop my own ideas and projects with the support of the scientists is a great enrichment for me. I had to move across the country to do this, but it was definitely worth it!

How did the application process go at the BI?

Places of work like the BI, which participate in the FJN program, enter their job advertisements on the ijgd (International Youth Community Services) list. If you are interested in a certain offer, you will first be sent a description of the assignment place. After this step, you can simply apply.

However, I did it the other way around: I applied directly to the BI and only contacted the ijgd after an interview, because I really liked the position.

What tips do you have for future FJNers and those who want to become one?

The FJN is a great opportunity to try things and discover new possibilities. Stay relaxed, and don’t worry if you make a mistake. Most important of all, be open to new impressions and topics. Where else can you gain such a profound insight into research with comparatively little effort? Especially if you are not yet sure as to what you want to study or learn, an FJN is really an enlightening experience!

Got curious? This year we offer 2 positions (m/f/d) for a Voluntary Social Year in Science, Technology and Sustainability (FJN).
Please find the job description here.