Compared to some programs, it may still be small in numbers, but the personalisation of Politikum’s services is having a lifelong impact on the students and families it caters for.
Co-founded by Andrés González and Sofia Vaca in 2020, Politikum began offering political education to high school and university students. Now, it also offers student counselling services and its international internship program which sees students travel from Ecuador to Germany to carry out a one-month internship in an industry of their choice.
Open to junior students at German high schools in Ecuador, the international internship program has expanded from six to 15 students in one year. So far the program has allowed participating students to undertake a one month internship in settings such as law firms, kindergartens and university research stations, all based in Munich.
“This has been our biggest success so far, reaching the program’s maximum capacity”
“This has been our biggest success so far, reaching the program’s maximum capacity,” González told The PIE.
For many of the students, aged 16 to 17, the experience is their first taste of independence away from their parents, as they share accommodation with two or three students and are accompanied by Politikum staff.
Employers clearly feel the benefits too, with many of the companies choosing to repeat the experience.
“They love it because they give a young person the opportunity to experience the work, the technicalities of the job. They like to be international as well and welcome someone from Ecuador which doesn’t happen every day,” said González.
Throughout all of the Politikum’s offerings, personalisation has been key to the success of the company and the students it serves, González shared with The PIE.
The 12-week college counselling course offered by Politikum – Designing Your Future – grew organically when one of González’s politics students asked for help with an application to the University of British Columbia. Today, González proudly boasts a photograph of this student at the front gates of her dream university.
Politikum has since counselled around 10 students annually, priding the service on its ability to get students reflecting on their interests and educational and career goals.
“We go back to the origins of a college counsellor but we do it in a very personalised way. The problem is that in Ecuador every high school has a college counsellor but they have 100 or 150 students. We have fewer students because it’s a private corporation,” said González.
“It’s still a boutique program but we have made huge, huge improvements in guiding the kids in a very honest and open way through the process of college applications.”
Most of González’s students apply to the US, but Germany and the UK are popular choices too, he told The PIE.
Part of Politikum’s role in counselling this generation of students in Ecuador is convincing students to look beyond the brand of a university, or the “fancy name” of a course, and instead to really unpack the content of a degree and how it suits their goals, said González.
Now registered as an official organisation in Germany, González is looking at expansion, hoping to bring the counselling service to German students in the near future.