"Brussels is a good start for any political scientist. I learned a lot there and made contacts."
Jason David Krstic first studied social sciences at the University of Cologne for his bachelor's degree and then did a master's in political science. After graduating in 2017, his interest in shaping political processes led him first to an internship in the field of strategic, political consulting in Brussels and finally as a consultant in the joint office of the Cologne SPD members of parliament.
With Jason David Krstic, we look back on his time as a student at the WiSo faculty and he tells us how to make a successful start in professional life as a political scientist.
Dear Jason, you are a speaker for the SPD members of parliament from Cologne. What exactly do you do and what are the challenges in your position?
I work mainly in the field of public relations. In my case, that means that I plan appointments on site, accompany them and write press releases. There is also a lot going on in the area of social media. In addition, I inform interested parties about their work in the NRW state parliament with the state parliament newsletter of the Cologne members of parliament.
Basically, it is important to know about current developments and to be able to react. In this respect, the main focus of the members of parliament serves as a guide. Stress resistance is an important characteristic in political work, as is the willingness to keep appointments in the evening. In my case, there are also many individual tasks, such as providing input on content, researching background information and answering questions from citizens. In addition, we employees are of course always the contact person on site.
In the industry, starting a career is often done through an internship or voluntary service.
What step did you take after your master's degree at the WiSo faculty to finally work in this job?
On the one hand, I wanted to apply what I had learned during my studies. On the other hand, I wanted a practical job - a dissertation or scientific work did not correspond to my expectations. I then got started by doing an internship at a political consultancy in Brussels. In the industry, the start of a career often takes place via an internship, voluntary work, etc. That was exactly the right step, because although the demands in such a company are very high, you learn a lot in a short time. And of course there are also opportunities for advancement. Brussels is a good start for any political scientist. I learned a lot there and made contacts. When the opportunity arose to work for the Cologne Social Democrats in the NRW State Parliament, I could not, of course, let this opportunity go by without being a political scientist and party member. I am very satisfied there. I would do the same again now.
Almost three years as a student assistant and later as a research assistant at the university helped me a lot with my career entry.
You say about yourself, you are enthusiastic about the complex field of action at the interface between politics, business and society. Were your studies or lecturers able to arouse your interest? If so, what exactly inspired you?
At the WiSo-Faculty you could study many different political topics during my studies - as far as possible, it was and still is certainly useful to concentrate on a few. Especially in the Master's programme you should create a certain profile. In my case, this was the case with regard to EU and economic policy. Martin Höpner from the Max Planck Institute in Cologne, who regularly gives courses at the WiSo faculty and who has a lot to offer, both professionally and didactically, had a lasting influence on me. In particular, the crisis of the euro and the EU economy was not only illuminated by the one-sided "euro = good perspective". There was also talk about the losers and winners of European integration. The same applies to Christine Trampusch, who takes her teaching position just as important as her research.
A resume is not only about grades.
When you think back to your studies - What can you profit from in your professional life and how career-oriented would you rate your studies overall?
I think it would be questionable to orientate a social science course of study too strongly towards the professional market. Rather, studying social or political sciences at the WiSo-Faculty could benefit from a better integration of already existing offers for further education and career entry (CareerService, further education offers of the student council etc.). In addition, these would have to be less one-dimensionally oriented towards the economic sciences.
What exactly motivates you to do your job every day and what professional goal would you like to achieve?
This question is difficult to answer. I did a Master in Politics not out of interest in a particular profession, but out of interest in the subject. In this respect, my professional goal is to still be working in the political arena or at the interface in 20 years' time. Everyone who is a member of a political party and has the opportunity to work there also has a certain motivation of an ideological nature. I would be pleased if we as a society could look back in a few years to 2018 and say: we have taken on the challenges of right-wing extremism, digitalisation and the social question, as they presented themselves in the year in question, and have been able to overcome them.
If you were a student at the WiSo faculty again - what would you do differently and what would you do again?
Now that I have been in professional life for a comparatively short time, I can only agree with those who point out to prospective students that a curriculum vitae does not only consist of grades. Almost three years as a student assistant and later as a research assistant at the university have helped me a lot with my career entry. Just as the opportunities for involvement in and around the university (student council, matriculation, sports) and my semester abroad at the partner university in Dublin have helped me personally. I benefit professionally more from the fact that I have a better understanding of larger political connections and dependencies than that I can shine in my profession with special knowledge of the ordinary legislative procedure of the EU. The advantage of being a generalist is that I have quick access to all kinds of political issues.
One of the most important experiences was my semester abroad.
Before I would even attend the math pre-course, I would register for the time management courses. Sample timetables look simple, but the actual time required is of course self-study. One of the most important experiences was my semester abroad. Using the learning model of the Anglo-American area, German universities can still learn a few things, including how to teach and retrieve content continuously over a whole semester. Perhaps I would make my choice of courses based more on teachers than on content, but that's easy to say in retrospect. I would also attend the math pre-course.
In the same way I would take the numerous activities and further education opportunities that accompany my studies with me. Their diversity is an advantage that goes hand in hand with the location of Cologne. I particularly enjoyed the Buddy Program of the Center for International Relations, where students from abroad are looked after here in Cologne. I would have chosen the same focus, because EU policy will become all the more important, despite or rather because of BREXIT.
Many thanks for the interview, dear Jason!
The questions were asked by Maximilian Lichter.