MIA graduate and Senior Consultant at BwConsulting shares some insights into her experience at the Hertie School.
Bianca Neumaier graduated from the Hertie School’s Master of International Affairs programme in 2019. She gained an impressive range of experience working in government affairs and in the security sector in her student jobs as well as for her summer internship at the German Federal Foreign Office. Bianca now works as a Senior Consultant at BwConsulting.
What have you been doing since you graduated from the Hertie School?
After graduating from Hertie in 2019 I started full-time as a consultant for BwConsulting, the in-house consultancy of the German Armed Forces, in September that year. In July this year I was promoted to Senior Consultant. Through my job I have been consulting the German Ministry of Defense on strategic management issues and developing solutions with my counterparts at the ministry.
Why did you choose the MIA programme?
I received my bachelor’s degree in Management and wanted to do something different and more international relations related for my master's degree, simply because it had always been an area of interest of mine. Hertie gave me the opportunity to follow that interest with an interdisciplinary programme, where I did not have to have any specific prior experience in IR but could apply and expand my knowledge. I was also specifically looking for smaller study groups and courses and a lively student community.
What was your favourite course and why?
My favourite course was on private military and security companies in my last semester with Dr. Sorcha MacLeod. I really enjoyed her engaging and inclusive way of teaching and as I was writing my thesis on private military companies the content was of great interest to me.
You completed your mandatory internship at the German Federal Foreign Office. Could you tell us more about your experience there?
During my internship with the unit on the promotion of foreign trade (Außenwirtschaftsförderung), I mainly prepared and researched reports on Germany's economic ties with the rest of the world and assisted in the organisation of the 2018 Business Day of the Ambassador's Conference, which takes place every year. I worked with a great team and I am still in contact with them.
What advice would you give to future students interested in working in and around the public sector in Germany?
In my opinion, work experience is the best way to get into certain fields. That could be through internships but also part-time student positions. Additionally, your first internship does not have to be in your dream sector. If you have a specific goal, there are always multiple ways to achieve it, and sometimes a little detour will give you important skills for future positions.
For example, I had mainly corporate communications experience when I came to Berlin to study at Hertie but ultimately wanted to work in a field related to security. I decided to take a student job for a company in governmental affairs to get public sector related experience. After my internship with the Federal Foreign Office, I again took a working student position but in consulting. In the end, all of the experience, especially in consulting, helped me find my current job, which is in the security arena. Who knows what the future will bring…? :)
If you are an international student there is one last thing that, in my opinion, is essential if you want to work in the German public sector: You need to speak German, ideally at a B2 level or better. Even if there might be jobs in English, office environments are often dominated by the German language and it can be an advantage to speak it.
What is your fondest Hertie School memory?
The graduation ceremony in the Konzerthaus with all my loved ones.
Could you sum up your Hertie School experience for us in one word?
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