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M.A. Sociology - European Societies

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Jessica Ordemann, Research Assistant (Science)

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

Since my MA graduation I am a research assistant at the University of Hamburg. My daily responsibilities are numerous: preparation of a research proposal, including literature search and designing the study, conducting interviews, writing the project papers and analysing of primary and secondary data are only some of the tasks I am confronted with every day. Beside that I also improve my scientific competences through attending seminar, writing scientific papers and of course my doctoral thesis. Boredom at work is for me an unknown concept.

What was your motivation to study ‘Sociology – European Societies’? To what extend did the program relate to your undergraduate studies?

Two criteria were decisive for me. First, I wanted to study a research-based Master’s, and second that there will be courses offered in English as well. The focus on Europe was for me appealing due to personal interests. I have also lived for some time in the USA. As a ‘European’ I was fascinated with this transatlantic external perspective. When I discovered that at the Freie University a new Master’s program with a European focus has been grounded I knew I want to study there.
My undergraduate in Cultural Studies (majoring in Sociology) did not have much in common with the Master’s. This was specially so because I have studied at the University of Hagen where at that time no separate program in Sociology has been offered.

What is your personal assessment of the Master’s program (organization of the teaching, structure, tutoring, cooperation with other institutions, etc.)

The tutoring by the faculty members was excellent. Because of my Bachelor’s background at the beginning of my studies I had an impression that I hardly know any theory or concept, not to mention that I did not know any statistical basics. However, even the most basic questions were treated seriously and answered in detail. Even though high expectations have been set on the students, it has never been a single-direction relation. The teachers were always there for you with advice and support.
At the same time students were engaged in an active exchange with the faculty about the organization of the program. Our suggestions have been discussed and when I today look at the curriculum I can see many of them implemented.

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

Here I need to quote my Master’s thesis supervisor who accurately once said that he is studying in his 40th semester. This combination of passion and occupation is a reason why I find the researcher job so interesting. Also the faith in me of my present-day doctoral adviser contributed to the fact that dared to enter the academic path regardless my age.

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

Until today I extremely benefit from the solid theory and methods instruction combined with the already mentioned passion and the highest quality of the scientific work of Prof. Gerhards and his colleagues.

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

If you consider an academic career after graduation, ‘testing science’ as a student assistant at a scientific project or by a professor is definitely advisable. On the other hand, independent work with STATA, SPSS or MAXQDA is also helpful.

Is there anything from the Master’s program that evokes especially strong memories?

A statement of a teaching assistant whose seminar I attended as a quest auditor and with whom I discussed my seminar paper. She said that I would naturally apply for admission to the Master’s program! This obviousness has really impressed me.

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

I would recommend orienting oneself not on the stipulated study structure and time, but rather on organizing one’s schedule to learn all that what one had set as a goal for oneself. This knowledge will become your scientific toolbox to which you can resort to later.