“My Program of Study Brings Together the Best of Both Worlds”

Tsvetina Tsonkova comes from Sofia in Bulgaria and is in the fourth semester of her bachelor's degree in Culture and Economy: Media and Communication Studies at the University of Mannheim. It is not only in her studies that she brings together different disciplines; she also likes to combine theory and practice in her free time. In her myUniMA story, Tsvetina shares what makes studying in Mannheim so unique, how she combines her extracurricular projects with her studies, and what her plans for the future look like.

What makes studying at the University of Mannheim so special for you?

The unique combination of Business Administration and Media and Communication Studies, for sure. What's more, the people here are super open and communicative, and sharing experiences is a lot of fun. The professors and teachers also make studying a pleasant experience: They feel responsible for us students and are concerned about our needs. They are very helpful and always give us support, for example in the field of Media and Communication Studies, when it comes to research methodology and current research topics. I also like the fact that we have such small seminar groups in Media and Communication Studies and that we work together on group projects. We students are in very close contact with each other and with the teachers who hold the seminars. That way we gain valuable experience in a short time, and we don't feel alone.

When you think back to the time after you graduated from school, would you choose the University of Mannheim again?

Yes, that’s for sure! Before I started university, I had already been to Germany several times to visit my sister, who also studied in Mannheim and now lives here. After graduating from school, it was my dream to study at the University of Mannheim, because this is the only place where you can study a combination of Media and Communication Studies and Business Administration. During my Abitur, I focused on banking, and I have always had a great interest in Media and Communication Studies. Now, my degree program combines the best of both fields.

In addition to your studies, you are gaining practical experience. Where do you work?

Currently, I’m a student assistant at the Marketing department of the University of Mannheim. Together with the university’s photo editor, I work on the image database, take photos of students or employees, edit them, and do image research. The job perfectly combines my interests and knowledge in the fields of public relations, external communication, photography, and content management.

You are also involved in several student organizations. What kind of tasks and responsibilities do you have there?

I take pictures for the independent student magazine UniMAgazin Mannheim e.V. In addition, I act as a buddy for international students at the student organization VISUM e.V., and I am a member of the Austrian zero21 initiative, which deals with business management, start-ups, and financing. Furthermore, I am involved in the Bulgarian Bai Ganyo e.V. initiative, which brings Bulgarian culture closer to interested people and constitutes a form of contact to their homeland for Bulgarian students. At Bai Ganyo, I am responsible for the association’s external communication. Together with the team, we plan trips or organize events about Bulgarian culture and discussions with people from Bulgaria who work here in Germany. 

How is it that you are involved in so many different activities alongside your studies?

I am convinced that we should always link theory and practice. That's why I completed two internships at Bulgarian banks while I was still at school. And last year, I took part in two workshops on business start-ups and digital marketing to complement my studies. There, I gained valuable experience, had the opportunity to apply and practice my soft skills, and made new contacts. This inspires me with new ideas and is very important for me. 

What does studying at the University of Mannheim mean to you in a nutshell?

During my studies at the University of Mannheim, I made good friends and gained a lot of knowledge that is useful for my future career and for life in general. I have learned to complete my tasks on time and with care and to plan and organize my (work) week early on. This also helps me to manage my numerous extracurricular activities.

What are your plans for the remaining part of your bachelor's degree?

First, I will continue to work as a student assistant and pursue the projects of the student organizations and initiatives that I am involved in. Next, I want to do more internships to learn more about the working world and develop my career – preferably in marketing, PR, and external communications. I've also started learning a new foreign language: Russian. And I would like to further improve my German and English language skills, as well as my IT skills.

Text: Theresa Gorski / March 2022