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Charlotte Wilczok - International Cooperation

What do you like about your job and what challenges you the most?

What inspired me most about working in TC was the interaction in intercultural teams. It is unbelievable how scientific topics can be the basis for inspiring, trusting and innovative international cooperation. Together we were able to strengthen the topic of soil as an important natural resource, the vision of the open source idea and the importance of (geo-) data for sustainable development in Cameroon. These topics also fascinate me personally. I was very lucky to be able to implement my personal interest in my day-to-day work in Cameroon.

The moments were challenging when processes were prevented or slowed down by various hurdles, resulting in feelings of frustration and a lot of energy had to be applied to motivate yourself further. Working in DC / TC also means accepting some changes in the previous standard of living, including medical care, restriction of freedom of movement due to the corresponding security situations, access to water and electricity, etc.

My independence gives me a flexible workplace, I can try myself out and develop further. The development of solutions requires many pragmatic approaches, but creates a large field of activity. I really like the creative work. It is challenging to be disciplined and to seek help in your network in good time when things get stuck. The lack of integration in a team can weaken efficient communication flows for fast and innovative solution finding. Then the lack of daily exchange with colleagues may become a disadvantage.

Looking back, how do you think about your geoecology studies at the University of Potsdam?

Looking back, I would like to say how grateful I am to have exhausted my studies and tried everything possible. That was incredibly important for my personality development, but also for finding my professional focus. To finance my studies, I had already worked on the side and gained my first practical experience as a student assistant (including FPK Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH and GFZ). I have carried out many stays abroad with the help of study projects (Panama, Brazil, Spain), ERASMUS (Wageningen University, Netherlands) and the PROMOS scholarship (Cameroon) as well as internships (EARS Holding B.V., Netherlands). I also took the opportunity to study two specializations in my main course: “Structures and processes in soil landscapes” and “Geoinformatics”.

When I graduated in 2013, I was ready to start my career. My diverse experiences so far were, among other things, very decisive for the selection process. Since I studied for a very long time and tried many things, a lot of the knowledge I learned from my studies is actually relevant to my previous professional activities. The professional and technical competencies in the field of soil science, GIS and remote sensing, the languages ​​learned and practical experience during various stays abroad as well as the interdisciplinary understanding, which helps a lot to work together with various actors.

The geoecology course at the University of Potsdam offers a very wide range of subject areas and is the ideal teaching facility for practical studies thanks to its anchoring in exciting international projects and cooperation with research institutions. While at the beginning of my studies the job description “geoecologist” was frowned upon as being too “broad and without in-depth knowledge”, today you will find many job advertisements with exactly this desired job title. The global, very complex world needs interdisciplinary experts to find solutions to complex human-environment relationships. The topic is more topical than ever and one of the greatest challenges of our society today. Due to the multi-faceted view of the whole, we are also the ideal managers for various teams.

Do you have any tips for our graduates for a successful career start?

Be curious! Don't stop learning! And bring your heart and empathy into your work! The enthusiasm for what I do is what motivates my daily work. Very important: acquire tools. These can be languages, digital tools such as programming or script languages, handling a GIS or other special evaluation software, field experience for various measuring methods and mapping work, etc.

Be open to setbacks and be persistent, the learning successes do not always start as desired. But it's worth it in the long run. Ask for as much as you can - only very rarely will you get the opportunity to learn so much again. During your studies you should also try to gain as much practical experience as possible. Are you looking for exciting study projects and / or internships, study the range of courses abroad. The University of Potsdam offers a variety of advice options, also for the respective financing. However, you have to plan in good time, application times are often lengthy.

And after you graduate, apply with confidence because you are definitely the right person for the job application and you want to contribute your knowledge and skills to your topics.

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Whether in research, nature conservation, an environmental authority, NGO, industry or self-employed: the professions in which our graduates work are diverse! Find out more from our alumni ...