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Meet Max from Lunar

Max Scheid from Germany.
IoS developer at Lunar.
Master’s degree in Computer Science from Aarhus University in 2020.
Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Technische Universität Darmstadt.

My interest in IT actually started when I studied Electrical Engineering. I had a programming class and found out that Computer Science is way cooler. For me, computer science is very rewarding because you instantly know whether the thing you are working on is working or not. But computer science is not just writing code, it also has a lot of mathematics, architecture, and creativity.

When finishing my bachelor’s degree in Germany, I wanted to go abroad and investigated several options. I chose to come to Denmark because they offered the best complete package. Denmark was one of the few countries in Europe with English speaking programmes – at least when I started looking. As the education is free for EU citizens, I was also able to finance the entire stay on my own. So, I didn’t have to rely on my parents or take up a big loan.

Denmark vs. Germany

Studying in Denmark compared to Germany is very different. In Germany, I was used to lectures and then some assignments. If we were lucky, there would be a teaching assistant to help us, but there was hardly any practical work. I basically only studied during exam periods. Here in Denmark, there is an ongoing practical application of the stuff you learn. You have to do things during the semester such as hand-ins, exercises, theoretically exercises, and smaller reports, which all count to your grade. So, you are busy during the semester, and you get to apply the stuff you learn during the lectures. In Germany, I had three semesters where I didn’t write a single line of code, but at Aarhus University, there almost didn’t go a day where I didn’t write code for my projects.

For me, the most important difference between studying in Denmark and Germany is the focus on group work. Almost everything, such as hand-ins, reports, or code, is done in study groups of two or three students. I really enjoyed having other people to bounce ideas off with, and we could help each other if we got stuck. Yet another thing is hierarchies, which are almost non-existing in Denmark. Here, the professors are really open and accessible. Twice, we knocked on a professor’s door and got a private lecture for 15 minutes about a topic we didn’t understand. That’s unthinkable in Germany.

Being an international in Aarhus is easy

It has been really easy being an international student at Aarhus University. Almost all web pages and information are in English. The university makes sure you’re able to arrive safely and have a place to stay. It was straightforward to find housing in Aarhus because there’s a central website where you sign up, and you can get a student dorm for relatively little money. They are all over the city so you can pick one that’s close to the department where you are enrolled.

There’s a large international community at the university and a special international night at the associated Student House where you can meet other international students from different programmes. The intake of international students in Computer Science is growing every year. In my class, we were around 8, and that number has almost tripled in 2021. The staff is also very international. I found out that four of the professors are German.

The university has nine specialisations in Computer Science so there are plenty of courses to choose from. I followed the algorithms and ubiquitous computing specialisations. The rest of my credits were electives, depending on what I found interesting that semester. My favourite course wasn’t actually a course, but a project I did with a professor and a company about smartwatches, and how it is possible to utilise them in a healthcare context. That was a cool but also frustrating experience as we had to do actual research. We had to go down different paths to discover what didn’t work, and then go back to fix those things.

During my studies, I took the time to have a student job. I think that’s important and another great way to practically work with the things you learn. The company was respectful of me being a student and understood that during exam periods, I couldn’t show up at the office twice a week. There are many IT companies close to the department where you can find work. The department also cooperates with the industry network Destination AARhus, which helps internationals find student and full-time jobs within IT in the greater Aarhus area.

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Done with the studies, but not with Denmark

When I finished my studies in the summer of 2020, I decided to stay in Denmark because the market for computer scientists is way more favourable here than in other countries. The wages are high, there is a lot of flexibility and the level of education high - so you will meet many well-educated people. Here in Aarhus, it was super easy for me to find a job. My student job offered me a full-time contract at the end of my studies. Not long after I got headhunted to another company where I now work. This scenario is not unique to me. I know many others who easily got a job within the IT industry or moved to a different position because there’s such a big demand for computer scientists in Denmark.  

For me, the most important thing in a job is flexibility. In my current job as an IoS developer at Lunar, I have a lot of freedom. It is simply expected that I deliver, and I do. People put a lot of trust in me, which is nice coming from a more hierarchy-based and controlling way of working. Woking at Lunar is awesome because it is such a young company. I think the average age is around 30, and we are a lot of young people all eager to solve problems or work on cool things. It’s still a start-up, which means that we are not established yet, so there’s a constant stream of new things we can work on. There is always a lot of stuff you can do, but that doesn’t mean I am working 60 hours a week. I work 37 hours, and I am not expected to do anything on the weekends.

I probably spend 60% of my time on coding and 20% coordinating with my team or showing them how we would like to get things done. The last 20% are typically code review or meetings. Right now, I am trying to design a new way of working for our team, because we are 10 to 12 developers who work on a shared codebase that we need to split up into smaller components. That brings difficulties with it, but it is also exciting to take part in designing a work-structure that can be used for many years to come – as we probably will be doubling our team in the near future. So I am part of laying the foundation to support this growth in Lunar.

"In Germany, I had three semesters where I didn’t write a single line of code, but at Aarhus University, there almost didn’t go a day where I didn’t write code for my projects."

- Max Scheid