It’s a tough world out there. The global workplace is becoming an increasingly dynamic macrocosm that demands constant change from its professionals. Living and thriving in the 21st century means to continuously adapt and grow. As if all of this wasn’t already challenging enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated economies and labor markets worldwide, adding to the difficulties of young professionals and students seeking to kick-start their careers. So naturally, writing my Master Thesis as an international student seemed poised to be an even more stressful endeavor than normal. Luckily, I got to know of the Building International Careers (BIC) program offered by the University Career Services. Read on to know how the program helped me, and whether it might help you too!
The BIC program is a brainchild of the University of Göttingen’s Career Services founded with the guiding principles of supporting students with integration into the national and international job market. I came to know about the program through the University newsletter. “Certificate Programme Building International Careers”, said the newsletter. I didn’t need to read more. I was already stressed out about how to take the next steps after Uni and was open to all the help I could possibly get, and so I quickly signed up.
Fast-forward a few weeks and I was already excited to attend my first meeting! There were about 50 participants altogether, all from different academic and cultural backgrounds. We were split into pre-determined groups of 4-5. My group of 4 (we named our team ‘The Great Four’ – not very imaginative, I know) consisted of two Economics major students, and two Law major students. Most of the program was planned as activities to be done individually or as a group with your team. Unfortunately, one of ‘The Great Four’ left the workshop early on and we were down to three. The smaller group size definitely affected the team morale and our approach towards the activities. Not all the group members always showed up, and when they did the meetings weren’t always very long. That being said, the limited time I did spend with my teammates was very productive and I actually got some very useful tips and ideas from them.
An element of the program that helped with the group meetings were the detailed and well-planned modules. Each module was focused on one specific aspect of the job-search process. For a complete newbie such as myself with next-to-none prior professional experience, this was extremely helpful. The modules and their activities were conducive for me to first think about the right personal career path and then to devise a strategy for actually looking for such jobs. The program also covered the more practical aspects of the job search process such as writing the perfect cover letter and acing the job interview. Moreover, within each of the modules we were given separate individual and group tasks which made the flow of the group meetings very smooth.
In conversation with Ms. Stefanie Heidenreich, the programme coordinator of the BIC Program, she recommends the BIC program to students looking to build their careers from the ground up. She highlights the importance of knowing yourself and your interests before beginning the job application process to find a career that makes you happy. “Being proactive and understanding yourself better makes it more likely to pursue a fulfilling career that can make you happy”.
At the end of the BIC program, all successful participants are awarded the International Certificate offered by the Integration and Diversity unit of the University of Göttingen (InDiGU). This Certification is intended to indicate and honor international experience and intercultural competence.
As a final semester student writing my thesis and pondering the next steps after University, participating in this program seemed like the logical next step for me – and it turned out to also be the right one! Partaking in the activities and modules of the program gave me a comprehensive overview of the entire job application process – something which I was very new to. By the end of the whole program, I felt pretty confident with the application process and even applied for two positions.
Personally, I’d definitely recommend the program to my friends. I found it to be a convenient and immersive method to gain practical experience and knowledge of the career-starting process. Irrespective of whether you’re a newbie to the job market or have already had some prior professional experience, the program has something for everyone. While fresh graduates learn the entire ABCs of the global job market, the experienced ones get to work in a dynamic environment with other students in a ‘success’ team that supports you in your endeavors and goals.
It is important to underline the fact that your assigned group would be your key point-of-contact in this module. The idea of the ‘success team’ model is that you are in close-contact with a group of people from very different backgrounds who not only help you in building your intercultural soft skills but also support you in your individual and shared goals. While the idea is great in theory, it also closely ties the experience of the workshop to the experiences within your group. And since you have no control over who your assigned group is, your experience might range from great to not-so-great. However, this was only the case for the WiSe 2020/21 Program, as from SoSe 2021 onward, the participants will be allowed to connect with each other and build their own teams.
Other helpful resources
The BIC Program isn’t the only helpful event offered by the University Career Services. You can find a complete list of the different events and workshops offered by the University by checking the Event Calendar. Events such as the ‘Make it a match’ and GoinGlobal Training offer further specialized training in successfully making applications in English and looking for jobs worldwide respectively. Another helpful resource organized by the Göttingen International is the project ‘Start Guides‘ funded by the Government of Lower Saxony. It is specifically aimed at the integration of international students and immigrants into the Lower Saxony job market and offers a range of services for easier entry into the job market. The Career Services also offer Mock Interviews to students, where you have to send a real job advertisement for which a trainer from the Göttingen International interviews you.
Summarizing all the above, what the BIC Program essentially does is that it lays out the path to a global career for you right from the doorstep of your University. Very often, more than taking the first step, the difficult part is to know in which direction to take it. And this is where the BIC Program shines through!