Deborah Diekmann is studying for a Master’s degree in Literature and Cultural Theories at the University of Tübingen, in Germany. She is currently a visiting student in UNC’s Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures Department. She is also part of the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies.
1. Tell us a little more about what you’re studying at the moment and/or what your research focuses on.
My studies always have an interdisciplinary approach, including literature, media, film and art sciences, as well as cultural theories. My focus now is on intercultural communication with an emphasis on the philosophy of humor and how it is represented through media.
2. What are your general career interests or professional goals after graduate school?
During my Master’s degree, I’ve already had the chance to start teaching German as a foreign language to incoming international students at my home university, and I found that this is my passion. After graduate school, I would love to keep teaching German, but also teach advanced training in intercultural communication, even outside of the education sector.
3. How has participating in the Graduate School’s professional development programs and offerings benefited your professional development? Is there a particular program or resource that has helped you the most or that you found to be especially valuable?
Living abroad, taking classes, getting to know the people and culture in the United States already counts as part of my professional development. Engaging with students, especially from different backgrounds and perspectives, is very valuable for me. I was also able to participate in various events offered by the Graduate School, which have been very insightful and therefore definitely benefited not only my personal interests but my professional development.
On top of all those valuable experiences and take-aways, my participation in the PITAP class has been an excellent resource for my career preparation. I was very interested in knowing how to teach in an American classroom and within a different academic system. PITAP offered the ideal context to learn, through practice and discussion of different settings, while giving helpful feedback and input for further progress beyond the classroom.
4. Are there other steps you are taking now as a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?
There are various things I am doing to prepare for the job market. I am taking language classes – knowing different languages is always a plus. I also try to have (informal) conversations with people that work in a field that I would also find attractive to work in. I am especially curious about how they got to their current positions and what kind of qualifications they had when they entered the job market. I think you can learn a lot from other people’s experiences.
5. Do you have any professional development or career planning advice to offer your fellow graduate students?
One suggestion might be to be flexible and also think outside the box – sometimes we might find a career opportunity we did not know of before, when we least expect it.