Every now and then, I get a little bit melancholic. For various reasons. Yesterday, I got melancholic because of the end of the 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Qatar. 26 new World Heritage Sites were inscribed during the last two weeks, among them some truly awesome sites!
Why do I get melancholic? Because it reminds me of my studies and of the field I wanted to work in. I have a background in cultural sciences and World Heritage Studies. It’s a topic that has fascinated me with its numerous aspects, its intercultural opportunities, its stories and histories, its international collaborations, its political decisions and discussions, its implementation. I would love to work in this field. But after I finished my studies, there was no job available in Germany and I had the choice: I could apply overseas and I would have had a good chance that I get a job in the World Heritage field somewhere around the world. But that would have meant a long distance relationship and no time for family for the next years. The other option was to choose family and to somehow find my way in Europe. I chose the latter. I worked in Scotland. Afterwards I worked in the Black Forest. Never really in the field of World Heritage, but at least in the heritage sector which I very much enjoyed. In the meantime, I did another degree, this time in interpretation (a field which is much more appreciated in the UK and the US than in Germany!). At the end of my pregnancy I stopped working as a tour guide in the Black Forest and moved to Switzerland.
Now I am at home with the little one. Which is awesome! Don’t misunderstand me – I am more than happy that I chose family over career! However, I every now and then I am a bit sad that I can’t work in the field I studied. I have put so much time, energy and enthusiasm in this field. And I somehow need a way to keep me up to date!
It so happened that the little one got a bag of building bricks for her birthday. And yesterday, while I was playing with her, I thought about the World Heritage Session and the existing sites, and guess what? I accidentally built the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings! Ha! There you go! Applied World Heritage Knowledge! The little one will curse the day when her mother started to play with the building bricks!!
Brief Scientific Excursion to the Pile Dwellings:
What is it? 111 small sites with the remains of stilt settlements – houses that were built on stilts as they were located in wetlands or at lake shores along the Alps. They were originally built between 5000 to 500 B.C.
Why was it inscribed on the World Heritage List? Because they offer a unique insight into the early agrarian societies in Europe! And despite the fact that they survived thousands of years by being preserved in the water, they are now facing the immediate threat of being destroyed by a 76 cm high gozilla.
What else? It’s a cool listing because the archaeological sites are not only to be found in Germany, but also in Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, France and Austria. It’s a serial nomination. Which means that, ideally, it should enhance intercultural communication as the countries are supposed work together, build a network and share scientific research.
and I apply all my knowledge in microbiology when I prepare a cake with yeast instead of baking powder:-)) I can fully undrstand you.
All the best
I think that’s just what happens in nowadays’ work environment (if you want to include “mother and housewife” in “work” which I certainly do). You almost never work in a field you have studied. I would have loved to sit in a tiny office crowded with books, doing research on some not-too-obscure-but-regrettably-neglected field of density functional theory. Now, apart from programming (in a different language and with different intentions than before) I don’t use any of my knowledge in quantum chemistry in my current job. There may be a few exceptions, perhaps, all of which are related to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle applied to people, robots or food instead of elementary particles 😉
You rarely end up doing the same job longer than five to ten years as well and sometimes the change is dramatic. I just learned a few days ago that one of our most talented customer support people was originally an aircraft mechanic, another very competent one from marketing was an operetta singer. One of my closer colleagues came to our company because she worked with an instrument we built, with no other recommendation in terms of education than that. Yet she’s one of our more gifted project managers and has a great ability to deal with customers.
You never know 😉
The most important thing, anyway, is the meta knowledge you acquire during your studies. All those bits and pieces about how to deal with complicated people, how to deal with stress, limitations, to see around the next corner, the broadened horizon… All of this is extremely valuable if you want to prepare your child for this hugely complicated world it will live in. There are so many people out there passing on their ignorance, arrogance or violent behaviour to their offspring. You have the qualities to make a difference here and you will. This is so much more relevant than even the most astounding signs of former human life! It’s a true “heritage” 🙂
I think I will consider applying at your company 🙂
But you are raising a very important point here – a point about which I was always complaining when looking for jobs in Germany. I totally agree that you don’t need the specific specializiation for most of the jobs. Often, soft skills are more important than the qualification itself.
In the UK, you normally fill out online applications and the application forms often give the chance to explain how your experience (in whatever field) will benefit you. That allows you to bring in ALL of your experience, not only the one from your actual field of study (where you, as you correctly stated, almost never work in hence don’t have any experience). In my opinion, it also allows the employer to be much more flexibel and to benefit from career changers.
As an example: in Germany, most of the jobs in heritage interpretation still require a degree in pedagogy. If you don’t have this special degree, you are already out. In the UK, however, jobs in heritage interpretation require among others “people skills” – good communication, the ability to work with different age groups, good rhetoric skills, the ability to properly react to unforeseen situations….You can gain (and prove!!) these skills not just by studying pedagogy (in fact, I would doubt that a degree in pedagogy will really make you a good interpreter) but in numerous projects or jobs which might originally not have anything to do with interpretation. I seriously hope that German employers will soon adopt this type of applications!
ANYHOW! 🙂 I would love to work in the field of heritage education. But until then, I will happily annoy the little one with all my knowledge, hehe…
And your success with the little one proves you right 🙂