Anne joined the MIA without the typical international relations profile. Now she wants to help future students do the same.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Anne, a second year MIA student graduating this summer as part of the Class of 2021. I’m doing my concentration in Security and Sustainability. Before coming to Hertie, I did my bachelor’s in International Business Psychology at Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Germany and studied abroad at Pace University in New York City and at Shanghai University. I’m interested in travelling, meeting people from different cultures, reading and human connections.
What made you decide to pursue the Master of International Affairs?
I think I don’t really have the typical IR profile. I studied psychology to learn about human decision-making and organisational management, always keeping in mind that I wanted to put it into a bigger picture. When I studied at Pace, I saw that Hertie was having a coffee chat with some alumni. I was curious about their experiences at Hertie, how they put into perspective what they learned there, and what they were doing now. I also attended talks by Hertie professors at NYU’s Deutsches Haus to get a feeling of what it was like to be a student there. And then I decided to combine my previous fields of study with International Affairs.
What have been your favourite classes and the most useful practical skills you’ve gained?
My favourite classes definitely have been Conflict Management with Wolfgang Sporrer, Crisis Diplomacy with Wolfgang Ischinger, Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood with Gregor Walter-Drop, and Power and Influence: Leadership in Action with Johanna Mair, which was definitely the most hands-on course I’ve taken at Hertie. In this course with Professor Mair, we reflected a lot about how we can network, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis, and how we can reflect on and improve our own talents and skills. I also took the conflict simulation professional development course (PDC) in my first semester, where I learned useful skills in mediation and negotiation.
Before coming to Hertie, I didn't really have much of a background in statistics. I took Statistics I with Mark Kayser, and I really enjoyed it because he is such a great professor. Since he really made the class practical, I was interested in pursuing it further and took Stats II as an elective. It was challenging, with many evenings of hard work, especially when replicating academic papers, which I’d never done before. But by forming a study group and relying on each other, we understood the concepts quite well. Now that I’ve learned these quantitative skills, I definitely feel more prepared to enter the labour market.
How has the Hertie School network and career services helped you in your professional development, and what are your plans after graduation?
Before Hertie I worked in management consulting, at Accenture and at another boutique start-up. At Hertie, I took an additional PDC on Popular Speech, and actually got a student job out of it. The instructor, who has a leadership development company here in Berlin, in DC and Tel Aviv, ended up recruiting me later on. We just had a little chat after class, where she told me her company was actually looking for someone. I sent in my application and got hired!
I’ve also had one-on-one meetings with Anna von Behr and Laura Jaspers from the career team at Hertie. These meetings are mostly about guiding you through your CV, your cover letter and planning where you would like to apply. What I really like about the coaching style here is that you always answer your questions for yourself in the end, as opposed to them telling you what to do. Hertie opens up such a wide field of career paths. For now, I want to learn more about public sector consulting. But in the end – and that was always my goal – I want to pursue the German foreign policy career track and become a diplomat.
You’re the class representative for second-year MIA students. Can you explain how student government at the Hertie School works?
For the student government, you have to be elected. You have to give a presentation about yourself and say what you would like to accomplish during your term. There is a week where the student body can vote for two MIA representatives, two MPP, and two Executive MPA. We also have a chairwoman, a vice-chairperson and a treasurer. There are bi-weekly meetings where we discuss upcoming topics from the academic senate, for example, or whenever students reach out to us in need of support – when they have an issue with a professor or if they have other academic or personal concerns. We are the students’ voice and bring up their issues to the school’s administrators.
As one of our new student ambassadors, what made you want to share your experience with prospective students?
Talking to alumni before I came to Hertie definitely made me realise that I want to give something back because they told me many valuable things that I could definitely use during these two years. I was in the same position back then, and now I want to be that person for others as well. I want to share my experiences, answer questions, and also be very honest with students who are looking to make important life decisions.
What advice would you give to people interested in the MIA, whether they’re currently going through the admissions process or just deciding if this is the right programme for them?
I would say Hertie is kind of an incubator to explore new paths. Just try to not be too focused on what you have already learned or maybe even what you think you want to do. Just be open and try to get as much out of the whole experience as you can because Hertie is a great way to open yourself up, to meet new people, to explore your networks, and to connect with people from different cultures. What definitely really helped me was attending talks and events for prospective students while I was in the application process because then I could tell how it might be to be part of the Hertie community, and I could decide for myself whether it was the right fit for me. So just try to reach out to as many people as possible and talk to other students, before and after you are admitted.