Where are they now? Conversations with alumni

Ivan Demin from Yekaterinburg in Russia has completed both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Science at HAW Hamburg. He received his Master's degree in 2015 and is currently working as a freelance software architect in Hamburg. His clients include the Chamber of Commerce, a large Hamburg DAX company and a Hamburg government agency.

Male person at a desk

Ivan Demin, Russland

'In 2009, I decided to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Applied Computer Science and then a Master's degree in Computer Science at HAW Hamburg. Combined, the degree programmes equipped me with different skills and abilities. The bachelor studies gave me a broad overview of analysis, concept, design and development of software. But above all, it was a good basis to efficiently familiarise myself with software systems. This point, in particular, is crucial for success in professional life, because the new and continued development of a software product consists of a number of programming languages, frameworks and tools in a team. Through my Bachelor studies I have learned to handle these extensive requirements in projects.

While the Bachelor's programme was broad in scope, the Master's programme gave me the opportunity to understand a software system in depth, because I was able to deal with a question of my choice over the course of four semesters. In my case, the supervision and mentoring of the professors in both programmes was excellent in addition to the content of the programme. This further increased my interest in the field. At the end of my studies at HAW Hamburg I was able to design and develop entire software systems, consisting of several subsystems, based on specific requirements.

Gain practical experience during your studies

Since we gained a lot of practical experience during our studies, it was not surprising that I and many of my fellow students were already working for companies part-time during our Bachelor's studies. In the Master's programme, most of them even found employment in the IT sector during their studies. Practical experience in IT simply counts for more than just theory. In my case, my practical experience was the following: I did several internships in the IT department of chemical companies, worked as a student trainee at T-Systems for several years, and then had a permanent position in an e-commerce software company for several years.

Since 2019 I have been working as a freelance software architect in Hamburg. My clients include the Chamber of Commerce, a DAX-listed consumer goods company and a Hamburg government agency. Already during my Bachelor studies I worked freelance on various software projects, such as a web relaunch for a major HR event, a SocialHub for an advertising campaign for the Otto Group and an exhibit for the IT summit in Hamburg. I received a lot of support from my supervising professor, Dr. Kai von Luck.

Tips for working freelance

Two factors are crucial to increase your chances as a freelancer. Firstly, an extensive knowledge of developer tools, programming languages, frameworks and process models in agile software development. Here it is important not to play "bullshit bingo". It is important to understand things in a certain depth. This requires time and methodology, which you learn during your studies. The second important thing is the project portfolio, which you develop over the years. Here it is important to understand that you shouldn't accept every assignment that might fall at your feet. Important for the success of a project is the extent to which the other side has a feeling for how long it takes to implement it in the required quality and with the associated costs. Communication in projects as well as in development can take place completely in English. However, a good amount of German is necessary for the requirements analysis.

For international students I can say, dare to take this step and start a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Germany. Because I can proudly say that I have made my academic way at HAW Hamburg. So I feel well positioned for the future and can look ahead with a smile.'


Ingrid Weatherall
International Office