Our Three Student Assistants

Get to know our three student assistants at BIGSAS:

Most of you have probably had contact with our three student assistants Julius Junginger, Kerstin Tanzberger and Niklas Fierlbeck: either directly in person or indirectly via email. In order to give you a brief overview of who actually assists you on a daily basis with organisational, administrative or personal tasks and problems, we have asked them a few questions.

From the left: Julius Junginger, Kerstin Tanzberger, Niklas Fierlbeck

What is your background and where did gain previous experience?

JJ: After graduating from school and doing a voluntary service in Togo/Westafrica, I decided to study Business Administration. I didn’t really like it because of the very narrow-minded curriculum. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in 2018 I was more than lucky to have the opportunity to move back to Westafrica for an internship with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Ghana. Once I found pleasure in the “internship rhythm” I did further internships with GIZ in Frankfurt and with the KfW Development Bank in Pretoria/South Africa.

NF: In contrast to many of my friends from school, who decided to pursue technical or business study courses for becoming engineers or working in one of the local companies, I decided to apply for an undergraduate study programme called “African Development Studies in Geography” at the University of Bayreuth in 2013. I had always been interested in Africa, probably emphasized due to the fact that my father also always took an interest in Africa, especially in Northern Africa. We spent several holidays in Morocco, but I had never been to a Sub-Saharan country at that time. In my cohort we were only about 15 people and replying to people’s questions back home as to what it actually was what I was learning in my studies, became a rather time-intensive endeavour. Same goes for the inevitable question: “And what are you planning to do with it later?” Things became a bit clearer eventually. During my undergraduates, I did a three- month internship in Kenya in the tourism sector. After my undergraduates, I did two other internships with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (a German political foundation) in their country offices in South Africa and Ghana with a total duration of nine months. These experiences confirmed my interest in development and my regional focus on Africa and I decided to enrol in the master’s course “Development Studies” at the Uni Bayreuth. Besides my academic interest, I am connected to Africa and especially Kenya also in other ways. I travel to Kenya at least twice a year, made many friends there and since 2017 I am in a relationship with a Kenyan lady. Since this year we are happily living together here in Germany with our one-year-old son. We are also running a small tourism company in Kenya. My studies here in Bayreuth therefore not only have educated me academically but have also shaped my personal life to a great extent.

KT: I initially come from Bonn but moved to lower Bavaria for pursuing my bachelor’s degree in International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau. This bachelor track had quite a broad focus containing disciplines from Economics, Business Studies, Political Science, Cultural Studies and foreign languages. During my bachelor I had the opportunity to spend one semester at Vigo University in Spain and gain some work experience through internships at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn and in the administration of the Goethe Institute in Glasgow, Scotland. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I was also interning with a small consulting company which focuses on projects initiated by GIZ, the Federal Foreign Office and the EU. As my courses in Economics fascinated me the most, I decided to move to Bayreuth to start a master’s degree in International Economics and Governance (IWG) at the University. Apparently, Bavaria was not yet ready to let me go 😊

Why did you come to Bayreuth/BIGSAS?

NF: Bayreuth is well-known for its Africa expertise. My dad also studied here for a while, so it was an obvious choice, really. So was the choice to join BIGSAS. I had frequently worked “normal” student jobs but when I heard that BIGSAS was looking for a new student assistant, I knew I had to give it a go. After I learned that I had been accepted, I quit my previous job and…well, since that time I am here. That was in June 2019 and so far, I do not regret the decision.

JJ: After the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in March 2020 ended my internship in SA prematurely I decided to study International Economics & Governance (IWG) in Bayreuth. As Bayreuth is internationally well known for its expertise in African-and/or Development Studies I thought that might fit well. Which up to now, it really does!

Having read on twitter in September 2020 that BIGSAS is looking for a student assistant, I gave it a shot. Thus, since last November I am supporting the BIGSAS team in providing you the best organisational and academic framework to successfully complete your PhD. I really hope all these Emails from my end do not stress you too much 😊

KT: I had also heard about Bayreuth’s Africa expertise which contributed to my choice to study in Bayreuth.

I firstly saw an advertisement for the position of a student assistant at BIGSAS in the summer of 2020. But at that time, I had not yet moved to Bayreuth so I decided to not apply but wait and see how time-consuming university would be. In the end I joined BIGSAS through a fellow student who forwarded my CV when she heard that BIGSAS was searching for a new student assistant. Since September 2021 I am supporting the incoming PhD students in administrative matters, which means you will probably dealing most with me before your arrival and during your first few weeks in Bayreuth. Moreover, I will contribute to the BIGSAS blog and other social media activities.

What are the “post Bayreuth time” goals?

KT: Based on the internships, I can well imagine working in the field of international development and cooperation after my master’s degree. However, some university courses have also awakened my interest in the energy sector, and I would love to gain some hand-on experience in this field. Moreover, I would like to go abroad again for a longer period of time, if the COVID-19 situation allows it. Let’s see what the future brings!

JJ: If everything goes as planned, I will graduate from Bayreuth University in May next year. First, the top priority will be to have fun summertime (without Corona restrictions hopefully) travelling and just following my highest excitement. After, I would love to do a trainee programme in the field of the financial development cooperation, i.e with the KfW Development Bank.

NF: Ah, another of these! Jokes aside, I am currently in the last phase of my studies here in Bayreuth and have only my master thesis left to write. I do not have a concrete plan laid out for the first time afterwards. A first job, maybe a trainee position? In Germany? Elsewhere? What I do know is that I will continue to be passionate about Africa and that my future job most likely will reflect that, too.

What do you like most in Bayreuth?

NF: Bayreuth is neither too small (well, sometimes it is), nor too big. It has a comfortable size. At least for someone coming from an even smaller town. Over the years, certain places (the Hofgarten, the Röhrensee, the city center) have grown on me. So has the architecture, which is distinctly different from my hometown. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even get used to the local Upper Franconian dialect? 😉

KT: For me during summertime the Kreuzsteinbad is my happy place. I really enjoy going for a swim either really early in the morning or in the evening before closing time when the pool is empty, and you can swim your laps in peace and quiet. There is then a relaxed atmosphere and people are kind to each other. Small hint: from 5pm during the week, you only pay 1.60 euros when you show your student ID.

JJ: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to experience Bayreuth at its fullest because the timing of my study collided with COVID-19 (restrictions). That didn’t allow me to do what I usually do in my free time. Watching basketball and/or playing basketball as much as possible. However, I really found pleasure in visiting Hofgarten, going for a run in the Wilhelminenaue,or do cycling in Upper Franconia.

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