KLU graduate Jasmin Wrede (MSc Management, Class of 2020) founded the non-profit startup TechLabs Hamburg during the pandemic and while she was successfully completing her degree. At TechLabs Hamburg people receive cutting-edge tech skills in the areas of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Web Development, and User Experience—free of charge. The community is open to everyone, regardless of their background or prior knowledge. We wanted to know what this project means to Jasmin, how she was able to get it off the ground, and what questions are on her mind right now in general.
Jasmin, we are very pleased to have you as the first contributor for our new series, Alumni Stories. What motivated and enabled you to start TechLabs Hamburg?
Jasmin Wrede: Above all, I was motivated by the fact that digital skills are increasingly in demand, even across industries. It then came to my attention that there was already a corresponding training program in other cities. In Hamburg, however, this was still missing, even though the demand here is enormous. A friend told me, "Why don’t you just take things into your own hands?” And that’s what motivated me to start up my own organization. Other cities are developing much better than Hamburg as a tech hub, so we should help with that.
As a recent graduate myself, I noticed that almost all job advertisements require this knowledge, but not all of Hamburg's universities include offerings such as programming courses in their degree programs. I was "enabled" by our great team. We didn't know each other before, but came together to found TechLabs through similar ideas. It was at the end of 2020 between finishing my studies and starting a job that I took a programming myself and became excited about Data Science, and it’s been great great to be able to pass on this motivation through TechLabs.
Have you also experienced any setbacks? How were you able to you overcome them and what did you learn from them?
Jasmin Wrede: One of the really cool things about TechLabs is that we bring people together who have different professional and personal backgrounds on the student and volunteer side of the team. Since I had previously worked primarily in my studies and in jobs with people who had gone through the same training or worked through similar processes in the company, it was now something new for me to work with completely different people. That wasn't always easy for me.
As a founding team, we have only been able to meet in person once, and even then, not all of us could attend, so the pandemic has amplified that challenge. When setting up an organization, I learned that you also have to look at the development and self-organization of the team, even though you just want to move your idea forward, which is digital education in our case.
In what ways have you found support and inspiration during your time at KLU?
Jasmin Wrede: There are two things in particular that I have taken away from my time at KLU. First, put your ideas into practice. You either already have what it takes or you pick it up along the way. And secondly, give people the chance to help you. For every idea, there was someone who either wanted to contribute something useful to know or gave us with helpful contacts.
The fact that many people at KLU had already started their own initiatives or companies was something I found very motivating. In addition, KLU showed me how important tech education is, since digital skills are also part of the curriculum, and many of my fellow students were planning to work in this field later on.
Apart from TechLabs, what else keeps you busy? And what subject really excites at the moment?
Jasmin Wrede: I am inspired above all by dialoging with others. This is why I am also active as a mentor for young people who are the first in their families to study. That's why I'm also happy myself when people contact me because we can exchange ideas on a topic or help each other. Professionally, I work for a technology consulting firm where I also get to work in areas that excite me, specifically "Digital & Strategy" for the energy industry.
About TechLabs Hamburg
TechLabs Hamburg is a non-profit association that offers free tech courses for interested people from all disciplines. According to the association, it wants to democratize access to tech education in order to solve the problems of our time through digital and entrepreneurial means. Since being founded in 2020, TechLabs Hamburg has counted more than 150 participants.
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