Networking – a buzzword that nowadays hardly any student or young professional can avoid. At the same time, many wonder whether it is worthwhile to get involved while still at university and whether they have a place between experienced professionals. We spoke with Kasimir Forth on this topic. The Managing Director of the Leonhard Obermeyer Center in Munich got in touch with the DGNB and its network when he was a student himself and continued to participate ever since. His answer: Absolutely!
Levke Kehl (LK): In 2017 you have passed your exam to become a DGNB Registered Professional (RP). At that time you were still a student. How did you become aware of the DGNB?
In my bachelor’s degree program “Engineering Sciences” at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), I already specialized in the field of “Sustainable Building” and subsequently completed an internship with a large building consultancy firm in the field of energy design and sustainability certification. At this time I got in touch with the DGNB System and the network for the first time. When I finally started my master’s degree in “Energy-efficient and sustainable building” at the TUM and continued working in the field as a working student at the same time, I wanted to take the first step to become a DGNB Auditor by completing the training for the RP. That is why, I convinced my director of studies to cooperate with the DGNB. This allowed me to acquire the knowledge during my studies and to take the RP examination immediately after graduation.
LK: The examination gave you the chance to become a trial member of the DGNB for one year. How did you use this opportunity?
As a student, I used my trial membership to take part in networking events in Munich. This enabled me to establish initial contacts with regional like-minded people and to exchange views on various topics within the network. As a student, it is certainly helpful to see certified projects on site in order to understand the added value, but also which different stakeholders are interested in the ideas of the DGNB. Following my trial membership, I also took the next step in my training by taking the examination to become a DGNB Consultant.
LK: How can students or young professionals benefit from networks such as the DGNB?
On the one hand, students can gain initial experience with sustainability certifications, and on the other hand it also allows them to get in touch with potential employers in the industry. I am convinced that this area is becoming increasingly urgent and important and that employers are already having problems finding qualified staff. However, young professionals often do not have much experience in the field or the necessary market overview. Neutral networks, such as the DGNB’s, are helpful in this respect, allowing them to exchange ideas on a personal level and also to engage in controversial discussions regarding idealism vs. realism. Ultimately, it is also up to young, unbiased people to question old ways of thinking and put them to the test. The exchange in an open, equal network can offer an ideal platform for this.
LK: Meanwhile you are a member of our pool of experts and are involved in strategy groups. Why did you decide to do so?
I quickly realized that the DGNB System has its limits, but that it is also backed up by a great network that wants to keep improving things. Specifically, I was bothered by the lack of interfaces to a lean, digital verification system, especially for life cycle assessment. Instead of regretting this, I wrote my master thesis on BIM-integrated lifecycle assessment. And through the DGNB network, I met many colleagues who are also very interested in the same topics. In addition, the DGNB offers a very diverse range of topics, so that you can always exchange ideas and stay up to date.
LK: What advice would you give today’s students when it comes to network events and involvement in the association?
I can only advise everyone to be open, fearless and courageous and to test their limits. Commitment always pays off, even if it is not yet foreseeable in the short term. It can also be very enriching to meet people of different ages and personal backgrounds and to meet them at eye level.
A network that thrives on diversity
Anyone who wants to know whether their own college or university already has a cooperation with the DGNB will find an overview here. More about the Registered Professional training can be found here, information about membership here.
As a hands-on association that thrives on the diversity of its members and a network in which everyone benefits from each other, we at the DGNB are always happy to receive a breath of fresh air and new impetus. For this reason, we have also set up the “Young Professionals” strategy group. Here we work together to develop ways in which graduates and young professionals can make even better use of the DGNB as an association.