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M.A. Sociology - European Societies

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Lothar Saßen, Policy Officer at the German Parliament (Politics)

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

I work as a policy officer for sport in the SPD fraction in the German Bundestag. I predominantly support the fraction’s speaker for sport policy. My responsibilities range from drafting parliamentary initiatives, preparing memoranda, writing speeches, preparation and wrapping-up sessions of the sport committee and its working groups, up to communicating with associations, media, ministries and so forth. The working hours are fixed, although especially when the Bundestag sessions are scheduled, overtime is not extraordinary.

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

The composition of the program made a good impression and the European focus offered a lot of scientific freedom thanks to the comparative perspective. My expectations were fully met there. In addition, the excellence of the Freie University was appealing as well. And Berlin is definitely not a bad place to spend your studies.
The fields of sociological theories and methods related somewhat to what I learned during my Bachelor’s. However, in my opinion the Master’s was clearly a more intense and informative study program, especially when it came to the deepening of the knowledge of quantitative methods.

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

In total I really liked the Master’s program. The organization was good, although the program of the studies was very tight, in particular in the third and fourth semester (writing the research report and the Master’s thesis). If you wish to graduate within the stipulated four semesters and work beside your studies too, you really have to work flat out.
The individual tutoring at the Institute of Sociology was extraordinary and the faculty members have always had the doors open for the students. Also the cooperation with other institutions, for example WZB or DIW, was very fruitful and offered to those interested many opportunities to learn a lot within the studies and beyond them. 

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

I have been politically interested already in school. During my studies my wish to work in politics became more tangible and specific. No studies can fully prepare you for working in a political environment though. But my current occupation did not disappoint my expectations. I am really happy to work in such exciting field.

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

In my daily work I rarely use advanced sociological expertise. Nonetheless, having studied social sciences is extremely helpful: structured and independent working, intense researching, statistics interpreting, presenting data in a condensed way in any demanded format are essential in my job.

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

A good understanding of the complexity of politics is essential. This is in a way a basic requirement for a job at the German Bundestag. In relation to gaining expertise, one can choose such topics for their assignments (presentations, seminar papers, research report an the Master’s thesis) that can help them deepen their knowledge on the relevant fields and issues.

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

My present-day girlfriend whom I met during my studies :). Moreover, I would like to underline the very good atmosphere among the students. I believe it was possible because this is a very small program and a lot is being dealt with on a personal level. With many of my co-students I am in touch until today.

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

The German Bundestag is a very exciting and intense working environment. If you are interested in working at the Bundestag (be it at a political fraction, MP office or in the administration), definitely useful would be to do an internship or a student job at a MP office. This will help you win the first insights in the job. Furtermore, it is part of the business that political engagement brings about better understanding of the politics that is needed when working in a political environment. And in general, as in any other job, it is important to have a dedication.