:: Non-university careers ::
Practitioners in talk #Part 11
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. Christian Möller spoke to us about his work as scientific employee of the foundation „Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen“.
Christian Möller (First from right) at the "Parliament Night" of the State Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia in September 2019 © Sara-Marie Demiriz
Christian, you finished your PhD at BGHS in 2018, and now you are working for the foundation “Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen”. If you remember when you started your career: How did you find your way into the job?
Christian Möller: After finishing my doctoral thesis, I had a position that lasted a few months after my disputation. After the disputation, I set myself up fairly broadly: On the one hand, I developed an exposé for a postdoc project and looked for scholarships or positions at graduate schools. On the other hand, my wife and I had two children while I was writing my dissertation. And I said from the start: It would be wrong to just focus on your career at university. That is why I looked for advertisements on the “Stellenmarkt NRW”, for example. There are not only advertised positions at universities, but also in the public sector as a whole. This is how I became aware of a call for tenders from the state parliament: there was a planning group “History, Politics and Democracy of North Rhine-Westphalia” that had the task of launching a “House of History” [in German: “Haus der Geschichte”]. That interested me because the position is in my field of work: Contemporary history after 1945. I applied there, was invited to an interview – and then I needed patience. I applied shortly after my disputation in July 2018 and started working in the state parliament in June 2019.
Where are you working now outside the university?
Christian Möller: Initially, I worked in the state parliament and now I’m working for the foundation “Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen” which was established by law of December 19, 2019 and was constituted in spring 2020. On the one hand, we have been commissioned to design an anniversary exhibition for the coming year on the subject of 75 years of history in North Rhine-Westphalia. And then, beyond that, to design and build a permanent exhibition with a collection for a “Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen”. Comparable to the “Haus der Geschichte” in Bonn.
What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your profession?
Christian Möller: I slipped into museum work without aiming for this occupational field and without doing a traineeship ship on the way there. I'm an exception, and this has to do with the fact that the “Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen” is planned both as a museum and a research institute. Anyone who aims to work in a museum should do a traineeship. In general, I would like to give one more tip that contradicts the goal of completing a doctoral project in three years: On the one hand, it makes sense to consistently pursue your own topic in the course of a dissertation and to complete the dissertation project quickly. On the other hand, part-time jobs – including activities that have nothing to do with your own dissertation topic – can bring experiences that later turn out to be highly relevant. For example, I worked on the history of the Red Cross association in Halle/Westphalia on a freelance basis. When applying for my current position, it was an important detail to show that I was concerned with local history in North Rhine-Westphalia. If you decide to finish your own dissertation project consistently and quickly, or to take up a part-time job to “set yourself up more broadly”, I would recommend the part-time job.
Christian, thank you for the conversation.
The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.
The complete conversation is available here (only in German):