My interest in security policy was sparked by a seminar on democracies and autocracies that I attended at the University of Mannheim. Later, I learned about the JGSP and helped to establish the Mannheim section. Our goal is to inform and discuss about security policy issues in a non-partisan way and from new perspectives as well as to serve as a contact point for young and interested people. Though I am still involved in it, I am no longer the main person in charge: when I left for my semester abroad, I resigned from the position, because I think, in a leading capacity, you ought to be on site. Foreign and security policy are themes that have run like a common thread through my academic life: from a lecture on geopolitics given by an Italian diplomat during my semester abroad through to my student assistant job at a chair where I am working on a project on public attitudes towards European security and defense policy. Currently, I am even writing my bachelor’s thesis on this topic.
One of the unique features of the University of Mannheim is its wide range of opportunities for student involvement, and I wanted to take advantage of that. That's why I decided early on to join the Students' Association for Data Analysis and Statistics (STADS) in marketing. It organizes courses and lectures to train students in the field of data analysis. Most of its members are economists or mathematicians; so, for me, it was exciting to work with people from other fields of study and to contribute knowledge from my own studies to their work. I also volunteered in the Studenteninitiative für Kinder, a student organization for socially disadvantaged children that provides free tutoring to children.
I graduated from a classical language high school. So, it was clear to me that I wanted to work on social issues in a broader context. After finishing high school, I traveled a lot and also completed an internship at the German Bundestag. Among other things, this strengthened my decision to study Political Science. I chose the University of Mannheim because of its very good reputation and the possibility to study Economics as a minor. Other reasons were the university' s international orientation as well as its focus: In a nationwide and international comparison, Mannheim has a clear focus on quantitative methods. We try to use data and analyses to explain what the “real world” out there looks like. I find that very exciting because it is very tangible and concrete.
The most obvious thing is the international academic calendar – you won't find that at any other German university. Apart from that, I have always had much contact with international exchange students. The University of Mannheim has many partner universities around the world and my degree program comprises up to 60 percent courses that are taught in English. I also had the opportunity to gain a lot of experience abroad myself: I was in Oslo for a summer school; however, due to the pandemic, it was unfortunately only digital. Later, I spent a semester abroad in Rome. During this time, I even attended another course in Vienna via the ENGAGE.EU exchange initiative. If you want to, you can gain a lot of experience abroad – this is a strong argument in favor of the University of Mannheim.
First of all, the excellent academic supervision provided by the university: if you want, the contact with teachers can be very close. Thanks to my job as a student assistant, I get a hands-on and research-oriented insight into my field of study, which I really appreciate. In addition, the university attracts good students, which makes you even more motivated to learn and get involved yourself. I think the University of Mannheim is a great place to be. Studying at the University of Mannheim means you are doing everything right.
First of all, I will take a gap year and use the time to apply for a master's degree abroad, as the application processes are a bit more demanding. I also plan to do several internships: at a public sector improvement consultation in Berlin, at a strategic communications consultancy in Brussels, and at the German Embassy in Madrid. During the interviews, I noticed what a big benefit it is for me that I study in Mannheim: in addition to the university's good reputation, I was able to score with my analytical skills.
I still have to think about my professional future: Political Science provides you with a broad range of career options. There are many exciting fields you can work in, and right now, the world is very interesting from the point of view of Political Science. Maybe I'll come back to Mannheim after completing my master's degree to pursue a doctorate. But I could also imagine starting a diplomatic career. I like interacting with people from different cultures. So far, I have studied at a total of four universities and had fellow students from all over the world, which has left its mark on me. Moreover, working in diplomacy means that you can do something for Germany as well as for the global community.
I've grown very fond of Café Sammo (laughs). I think it's a great place because it's so close to all the libraries and you always meet new people or old friends. I will also miss the atmosphere at the university. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I wasn't able to experience it to the fullest, but the feeling of attending lectures at the Schloss together with my fellow students is simply unforgettable. The same goes for the close contact with the teachers. The University of Mannheim is just like a sworn community, and it makes me really proud to be part of it. All I can say is: if I had to decide to study Political Science again, I would always choose the University of Mannheim.
Text: Sarah Kempe / May 2022