North American Studies (M.A.)

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Jan Jekal, Freelance writer

Please describe shortly your current profession. How does your typical day at work look like?

As a freelance writer covering film, literature, and popular music, I work mostly from home, apart from doing interviews in hotels etc. or attending press screenings and concerts (at least, I did so prior to the pandemic). Work and personal interests are, in my case, intertwined and hard to disentangle; I pretty much spend the whole day reading, listening, watching, writing things.

Why did you apply for a degree in North American Studies?

It was a post-Abitur spur-of-the-moment decision without much thought or deliberation.

When and how did you choose your current profession? Did you realize your plans from the time of your studies?

I always wanted to write. I got into my profession––if you want to call it that––through internships and building contacts over the years.

What in your opinion is the most important thing for your work that you learned during your studies? What do you still profit from?

I think that the interdisciplinary character of the JFKI is particularly helpful for aspiring journalists, since you need to be, in that profession, somewhat knowledgeable in many different subjects. I have greatly enjoyed the combination of Cultural Studies and Political Science––particularly attending Prof. Kelleter’s lectures and Prof. Viola’s seminars.

Which additional qualifications should one gain as a student that are crucial or useful for your current profession?

I cannot think of any.

Is there anything from the Master's program of North American Studies that evokes especially strong memories?

As I wrote above, I attended Prof. Kelleter’s lectures and Prof. Viola’s seminars with great enthusiasm.

What advice would you give the students who would like to pursue a similar career?

Apart from internships: If you want to write for a magazine or a newspaper, find out who edits the section you want to write for (from bylines or Twitter bios). Shoot that person an email––in most cases it’s: firstname.lastname@nameofpublication.de––and pitch 1 or 2 ideas. Don’t say you want to write for them, but say *what* you want to write, and why *you* should be the one writing it. Try to be as specific as possible in 100 words or less. If the pitch is good, they will probably take it.