Student Activities

GCE Alumni (9): Scientific officer at the International Academy for Nature Conservation

The master´s programme “Global Change Ecology” (GCE) started in 2006. Since that time, some GCE students have already completed their Master´s degree.
We are interested to know what has been happening in the lives of our former GCE students. A few GCE alumni told us about GCE and how their careers have continued after they had finished the master´s programme.
The last one in our series is Asja Bernd, who was born in Germany and started to study GCE in 2011:

What did you like most about GCE?
The diversity of the courses offered was very valuable for me. I gained both methodological skills, like using remote sensing, as well as technical knowledge on climate change, biodiversity or ecosystem services. Also the chance to study with people from many different countries and backgrounds, although my year was not the most international, unfortunately.

How has your career continued after GCE?
After finishing the degree, I worked as a freelancer in several remote sensing projects focused on nature conservation. From 2017 to 2019, I was part of the Chair of Biogeography of the University of Bayreuth within the research project ECOPOTENTIAL, for which I mainly did coordination and communication work. Now, I am working for the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.

What is your current position? What are your tasks?
Currently, I work as a scientific officer at the International Academy for Nature Conservation of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. I design and organise different workshops on national and international scale about current topics in conservation. Having a strong background in communication from my Bachelor studies, I also do public relations work for the Academy.

How has GCE supported your career?
Given that my Bachelor degree was in Science Journalism, without studying GCE I most likely would not be where I am right now. I enjoy working on interdisciplinary topics, so the possibility to choose from diverse courses was a major reason for me to study GCE. The programme has provided me with a solid basis of expertise upon which I have built in my career.

What do you recommend to the current GCE students?
Think about what you want to gain from the study programme but also remain open to topics or courses you might not have considered in advance. You can learn about quite diverse topics, so it can be valuable to dip your toes into something new – and maybe discover a new interest.
Appreciate the chance to study in an environment with – hopefully – students from many different places and different experiences. Learning from each other is just as important as learning from lectures.
Take the opportunities you have to delve into topics you are passionate about and interested in. If you know where you want to work afterwards, think about how you will get there, and consider detours as the scenic route. If you do not know yet, that is completely normal. Work on the things you are interested in.

Be ambitious about your work, if that is important to you, but also keep in mind that assignments have a certain scope for a reason.
Don’t take all courses that are interesting in the first semester. Seriously, don’t. You have a third semester as well and as soon as assignments are due, you will regret it. I was involved in GCE for long enough to have seen this again and again. And again …

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