Following her business admin degree in Colombia, Daniela Koch came to Germany. Here she completed a certificate assessment and met her husband. Today she runs a café with him in Hamburg.
„What recognition means for me respect for myself and for what I have learned.“
Daniela Koch, from Columbia, had the idea of gaining experience abroad at an early age. She had a German grandfather, a German name, a German passport, and a sister who had already been living in Germany for 10 years. Emigrating to Germany herself was the obvious decision to take.
In October 2012, Daniela Koch made her dream come true and arrived in Germany. Prior to this she had completed her degree in business administration as well as a placement at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. And she had a plan. To start with she wanted to continue learning German and gain a better understanding of German culture. Following this she would have her qualifications assessed. And ultimately, she wanted to find a job or to continue studying— one thing after another, step by step. And so this was the determined approach she took in her new adopted city of Hamburg. Daniela Koch took German courses up to level C1. She then had her certificates translated and authenticated. Thanks to her sister in Germany, she knew about the certificate assessment procedure. She had also found out on the internet and from friends about who she could contact in Germany.
The Counselling Centre for Recognition of Qualifications [Zentrale Anlaufstelle Anerkennung (ZAA)] at the social service organisation “Diakonisches Werk Hamburg” explained to Daniela what she had to do next. She submitted her documents to the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) for a certificate assessment. This was successful. The Columbian university degree was assessed as being somewhere between a German bachelor’s and a German master’s degree. During the time she waited for the certificate assessment, Daniela took on a range of jobs. While these did not fully match her skills, they did leave her time for other things. She made further progress on the language course, for example, and even enrolled for a semester at Hamburg University. Over this period the 31-year-old worked as a waitress in a number of different cafés. Matías León, to whom she is married today, was working in one of these. The two of them met on a language course. They fell in love, and developed a business plan! "It was our dream to open our own café. Matías then received recognition as a master pastry cook. That was our chance.”
No sooner said than done! As a business economist, it was easy for Daniela Koch to draw up a business plan and put it into action. Today the café is running successfully. Her husband is responsible mainly for the sweet pastries and other products on offer. Daniela Koch looks after the marketing, the staffing, the figures and the ongoing development of the business. Looking back, she's glad she found the patience for the certificate assessment: “The certificate assessment was good for my self-confidence and gave me security. What I learned in my degree is respected in Germany. And that was very important for my future plans. It was worth the effort.”
Photo: © Portal “Recognition in Germany”/BIBB: Robert Funke
The interview with Daniela Koch took place in February 2019. The higher education certificate was assessed through the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB). Guidance on the procedure was provided by the Counselling Centre for Recognition of Qualifications [Zentrale Anlaufstelle Anerkennung (ZAA)] at the social service organisation “Diakonisches Werk Hamburg”.
My vocational recognition was a real plus for me because my wife and I now run our own patisserie.
I am Matías León. I come from Chile.
I trained in international gastronomy.
In Germany, I am now a recognized master pastry cook.
I am Daniela Koch. I come from Columbia.
I met Matías, my husband, on a German course.
My Colombian business administration degree is recognised at the level of the German equivalent.
I take care of the business side. Welcome to Elisa, our patisserie.
We were only able to open the café because I have the master craftsman’s certificate.
And because I was able to use my knowledge of business administration.
I always wanted to learn new things.
I have an uncle here in Hamburg, so I was able to come to Germany. Then I found out it was possible to have my training recognised here. I almost had the equivalent of the master craftsman level. This meant I was able to continue training as a pastry cook. For the master craftsman status, I just had to do two examinations, and they were really difficult. I had to learn a lot and I got there in the end.
Our dream was to have our own café.
It took 18 months to get everything prepared. First of all, we had to write a business plan and then find suitable premises. Back then I was also working as a pastry cook.
In 2017 we opened the café. We are now very happy with it.
Do what we did.
Learn German. Be patient.
And work hard, and get your qualifications recognised.
There is so much support. Use it. Start your own success story and talk about it.