:: Non-academic careers::
Practitioners in talk Part #12:
Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the winter semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Mirko Petersen spoke to us about his work at the office of university communications at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.
Photo 1: Mirko Petersen
Mirko, you did your PhD in History at Bielefeld University in 2017. Currently, you are working in international university marketing at Leuphana University Lüneburg. If you remember when you started your career: How did you find your way into the job?
Mirko Petersen: During my doctorate, I concentrated on completing the dissertation. And only after submitting the dissertation did I take the time to get an idea of it: Where do I want to apply specifically now? What did I do during my doctorate? And how do I translate this into a language in which I can present my skills to my potential employer? After a certain period of time, I gained ground with temporary jobs: First I worked for “uni-assist”; an association that evaluates international student applications for many German universities. I then worked as a managing director in the third-party funded project “The Americas as Spaces of Entanglements” at Bielefeld University. I had already completed my doctorate as part of this third-party funded project. After the third-party funded project ended, I changed over to Leuphana University. Here I work as a consultant for international student recruitment.
Where do you work now exactly?
Mirko Petersen: I work for the Leuphana University in Lüneburg. My position there is at the office of university communications. My job in international student recruitment is to make the university known among international applicants and to make them aware of the various study programmes.
How does your work at Leuphana University look like now?
Mirko Petersen: On the one hand, we present in particular the English study programmes on international online platforms on which those interested can search for programmes, for example on the DAAD portal, “International Programs in Germany”. These portals and the fact that the portals are at the top of the list by search engines are often the answer to the question: How does someone in Brazil, India or Spain decide to study in Lüneburg, for example? On the other hand, we design the communicative infrastructure that the university offers international students. This can be a brochure for international students. Or that could be information that is available on the university’s website about a degree programme. In addition, I create analyses and data evaluations and advise various departments and people at the university with regard to addressing international prospective students.
What advice do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your profession?
Mirko Petersen: On the one hand, I would recommend thinking about everything I did during my doctorate in order to then answer the following questions for myself: What qualities were necessary for this and what skills did I acquire? And how can I use these qualities and skills in the fields in which I would like to work after completing my doctorate? For example, my international experience in the academic world was very important to me. On the other hand, however, it is about developing work contexts that differ from academic activities. For example, when starting out in international university marketing, one should ask: What structures exist at the university for addressing and supporting international students? And how can I find out more about it? For a lot of work in university administration, it is an advantage of – on the basis of a doctorate – knowing how science works. At the same time, it is important to detach yourself from your own scientific achievements for this activity: the list of publications is no longer the most important reference, but rather certain problem-solving skills that are central to the aspired position in science administration. This transition is not always easy, which is why you shouldn’t expect a smooth transition. A certain “idle” should be planned.
Mirko, thank you for the conversation.
The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.
The complete conversation (in German)is available here: