:: Non-academic careers::
Practitioners in talk Part #16
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:
:: BGHS Annual Review 2020::
Unfortunately, we were not able to meet as usual in December 2020 for the BGHS members’ meeting and the subsequent winter party. An overview of the BGHS community and activities as well as the activities of the Doctoral Representatives can be found in the BGHS Annual Review 2020:
:: Non-academic careers::
Reports about Practical Projects #2
"Reports about Practical Projects" are written by doctoral students who have designed and carried out a practical project in cooperation with a non-university organization. The BGHS has been supporting these projects with scholarships since 2020. In the second part of the series, Daniele Toro reports on his exhibition project on Forced labour under German rule during World War II in southern Westphalia.
Forced labour under German rule during World War II in southern Westphalia (1939–1945)
In my practical project, I have begun to organize a small-format traveling exhibition that contributes to the regional confrontation with the complex of topics of forced labor under the national socialist rule.The background of my project is that the scientific reappraisal of mass shootings of Soviet and Polish forced laborers in March 1945, which was started in spring 2019 by the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe in the Warstein-Meschede area, and especially the archaeological findings about it, generated a broad public resonance in the local society of southern Westphalia. It became clear that Nazi forced labor as a historical topic met with lively interest. This attention can be traced back to the fact that the region was only peripherally involved in the historiographical reappraisal, which in the 2000s pushed ahead with a detailed investigation and clarification of the so-called "use of foreigners" under National Socialism. There is still a public need in the region for a historically informed reappraisal.
Image 1: The analysis and digitization of archival records in the reading room of the city archive of Iserlohn (Photo: Daniele Toro, 2020).
I completed the research of the scientific basis and the location of the archive materials in the spring during a stay at the Institute for Social Movements and the Library of the Ruhr Area in Bochum. Now that the practical project is over, I am summarizing the results of my archival research in an essay. These results also form the basis for exploratory talks and networking with other institutional actors on the ground who are interested in creating the exhibition. In the hope that 2021 will bring continued improvement and more concrete prospects, the exhibition project and applications for third-party funding are now in the starting point.