Lena graduated last May from the Master of Arts Management (MAM) program. This month, we got the scoop on her new role as a Project Associate in San Francisco!
Tell us about your new job!
As of this July, I am a Project Associate with the Bavarian U.S. Offices for Economic Development in San Francisco. Coming from Bavaria originally, I am thrilled to be living the best of both worlds here in California and help U.S. scale-ups go global and enter Europe’s #1 market – Germany. One part of my job is to consult and assist companies with strategic planning, market research, information about the tax and legal system and funding programs. The other part is Marketing and Investor Relations.
I plan/attend events and conferences, create Social Media posts, etc. It is exciting to dive into the world of innovative companies and creative start-ups that are changing the world. Previous projects were, e.g. the expansion of Lyft and Slack to Munich. The Bavarian region is one of Europe’s strongest economic forces and many collaborations between Bavarian brands (like BMW, Adidas or Audi) and U.S. start-ups also happen through my workplace. A big part of my job is thus: networking. Especially in the Bay Area, I can theoretically attend 5 different networking events & Happy Hours every single evening. I don’t think I’ll ever have to cook myself dinner again!
What parts of the MAM did you benefit from most (courses, faculty, projects)?
I benefitted most from the SXSW trip – not only because it is a mind-blowing festival and conference – but that’s where I met my current boss! Before I started this program, I worked as a radio host and reporter, but wanted to pursue a career on the business side. This program provided me with the knowledge and skills that I was lacking before. Next to the theoretical courses, I would highly suggest signing up for the negotiation class. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but you will learn crucial skills, e.g. how to negotiate your salary!
The faculty is another great resource for every student. My focus was Project Management and Global Development in either Advertising or the Entertainment Industry. Professors connected me with professionals and I had the chance to meet with some of them and discuss their work. And just last Friday, I unexpectedly had to take over accounting at my work and finish the monthly reports (so, thanks to my accounting professor for teaching me how to make a balance sheet balance!)
How did the program prepare you for finding a job?
The leadership class serves as a great way of finding your professional self and this is the first important step to finding a job in my opinion. Are you a leader? A follower? What situations make you uncomfortable? When you find answers to these questions, you can focus quite well on the career direction and job position you want to head towards.
Making use of the network of your mentor and setting up a casual coffee meeting with people from different industries/jobs helps you discover what you are really interested in (and you also realize what you definitely do not want to do and that is fine). If you feel like you’re missing something (a skill, a different viewpoint or a discussion topic), let your professors know. They want to help you get the most out of this program.
Which practicums did you take and how did they help prepare you for your job?
I was part of the Events Management, Gallery Management and Festival Management practicum courses. What all of them taught me: Working with a lot of students on one big project is not straightforward. There will be a little chaos and sometimes frustration. You have to pull through, communicate clearly and enjoy the successes along the way. On the event day or opening night, the adrenaline kicks in and everything will work out. You get to learn how to work with different personalities and make compromises. Practicums are a way of trying out what goes and what doesn’t. You will take these experiences with you to the working world! In my job, we plan events and conferences, even government delegation trips. Sometimes it is stressful and there are many quick changes, but you pull through, make a schedule and clearly communicate. Just like in the practicum courses.
What advice do you have for first or second year students who are starting to apply to jobs?
It is okay to be stressed out, but do not stress too much. I applied to over 100 positions, got rejected about 80 times, had a few interviews, some 2nd interviews, got rejected again and also rejected low offers myself. So, do not feel down when you get a rejection. This is life. It happens to everybody. Take it as an experience and go on. In the end, I was out and about at a great festival and got a job out of it!
So yes, you must apply, probably A LOT, but always remember that opportunities can come out of every direction. Join a community or a club you are interested in, go to panels, just meet people! A personal connection will sometimes take you further than 20 online applications and great references. And most importantly, know your worth (remember, you will have a Master’s degree!) and be strong enough to say no to a low offer.