#Talk 4: Non-academic careers
:: Non-academic careers - Doctoral students in conversation ::
Many ways lead out of the BGHS. But where do pathways lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester, we talk to doctoral students who are already gaining work experience outside the university while working on their dissertation. Filiz Kutluer talked to us about her work for the von Bodelschwinghschen Stiftungen in Bethel.
Filiz Kutluer and Ulf Ortmann in conversation. Photo: Hannah Grüneberg
Filiz, you work in an "expert office" of the von Bodelschwinghschen Stiftungen. Where exactly do you work?
Filiz Kutluer: The "Special Office for Migration and Disability" is linked to the regional management and has a bridging function between grassroots staff and the clients*. This means, firstly, that I am responsible for advising and mediating. On the one hand, it is important to understand: What problems do people with disabilities from immigrant families have? What difficulties do their relatives have? Do they have access to the help system? If not, why is that? And if they are in the system: What problems do they have there? On the other hand, I also capture the perspective of the employees: What experiences do the employees* have with this target group? What problems do the employees report in this context? Secondly, I am working on the development of suitable concepts for my organisation: we have a target group that is difficult to reach and has difficulties in the help system - what can we do to solve or deal with these difficulties?
How does your work look like?
Filiz Kutluer: The work is varied. First of all, I am responsible for determining how employees*, clients* and relatives work together and what their needs are. Secondly, I network myself and try to keep up to date: How do other organisations and sponsors, such as the AWO or Caritas, etc. deal with this topic? What is being done about this in other cities in Germany or abroad? Thirdly, I draw up concepts for the intercultural opening of institutions and accompany their implementation in Bethel. This also includes staff training on intercultural competences. And fourthly, I take on the public relations work on this topic and give lectures or write articles for specialist journals. So, it may be that I am occupied on one day first with a client, then with an employee, then with the regional management and at the end of the day with a report.
What are the two most important tasks you do?
Filiz Kutluer: One of the most important tasks is: If there are difficulties in an institution between employees, clients* from a migrant background and their relatives that employees cannot cope with, then I am called. So, for example: relatives come to the institution without announcing their arrival beforehand. Then I try to grasp the problem first: How do the relatives understand the work being done in the institution? Do they know the rules on meal times or pick-up times? Do they know that they have to register as relatives before visiting the institution? And then it is my job to explain to the relatives how the institution works. For example: "Your daughter has a daily structure here; and if you arrive here unannounced, this structure is lost".
The experience I gain in such case-related work I finally prepare and develop suitable concepts and recommendations that I present to my supervisor. In this context, it is important to strengthen intercultural competences. And that's where these concepts come in: For example, in the case of communication problems, as I have just described, there is no point in translating words alone. Rather, language mediators* need to know the institution and the help system before they can interpret. For example: Why is it important for a foster child to use a tricycle? From the perspective of relatives, the tricycle can be unimportant; but from the perspective of educators, it promotes development and is therefore very important.
What knowledge and competences do you bring to your work as a social scientist?
Filiz Kutluer: For one thing, my work is very much about structuring. Because problems are described to me from different perspectives and my task is to relate these perspectives to each other - and then to pass this on to those involved: I try, so to speak, to sort out the problem areas described by both sides (educators and relatives) and to give them a structure for a better understanding - I learned that during my studies and I still like to do that today.
On the other hand, division of labour, for example, is a big issue when I mediate between employees* and relatives. Because division of labour is the be-all and end-all in Germany; in Turkey, for example, everyone knows everything about everything. For some, division of labour is a matter of course: "That's my job now; and if you need this or that, then go to someone else, and there! For the others, division of labour is a jungle in which they get lost: "I can't look right and left and I'm only responsible for this area here; if you need it, go somewhere else! And it is my job to make sure that the people involved get in touch with each other anyway. Without this dialogue, there is a danger that people with disabilities and migration backgrounds will not be able to access the help system.
What tips do you have for colleagues* who are looking to get started in your industry?
Filiz Kutluer: I think it makes sense to ask: What do those who work in organizations like the von Bodelschwingh foundations do? What are the different activities and occupational fields there? And which of these activities are what for me? There is, for example, an "information day for prospective students" at the Diakonie University of Applied Sciences in Bethel, and in this context the various professions and fields of work that exist in Bethel are presented. The central public relations department in Bethel is also available for information. You will always find people to talk to.
Filiz, thanks for talking to us.
You can find the complete conversation as PDF here (german):
Further information on the project "Extra-university career":