Working in art and culture: What good is a degree in humanities and cultural studies?


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Many dream of studying, which should primarily correspond to personal inclinations and abilities. The secure existence and amount of income are of secondary importance. Are humanities and cultural studies the right choice?

Working in art and culture: What good is a degree in humanities and cultural studies? Working in art and culture: What good is a degree in humanities and cultural studies?

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Here writes for you: Simone Janson is a publisher, German Top20 blogger and HR communication consultant. Profile

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From the desired study to the dream job?

Overview

Whether the desired study then later promises a successful career entry and the basis for a secure professional existence is initially secondary. Personal freedom is more important than security and a strong identification with the subject more important than a high income. In particular, the degree programs in the fields of arts, humanities and social sciences adhere to the image of a breadless art that almost inevitably leads to uncertain, low-paid and often temporary jobs.

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However, those who start their studies in these areas, despite the usual advice and warnings ("child, study something clever"), do not necessarily embark on a one-way street: some manage to live off their dream job despite all the adverse circumstances. Others seek and find alternatives in related fields of activity at an early stage. And again others discover new career opportunities by detours, far from the originally planned ones.

Really easy is the job search for no one who wants to work in these areas. Not infrequently, there is also a lack of a realistic picture of the job market and the knowledge of what is important when starting a job. Which expectations are realistic, which can only fail, and what can one do to make sure that the dream of a job does not necessarily become a breadless art?

Successful as a freelance artist

Overview

One that has made it is Carola Rümperer: She works as a visual artist in her own studio in Berlin-Marzahn. But simply, she admits, the way was not. Especially the study of art, which she completed in Osnabrück and Enschede, she had insufficiently prepared for her job as an artist:

"In my studies, I mainly learned art styles and techniques. But I did not realize that I would later work independently and what that means - about dealing with insurance, legal and tax issues. Or that I have to market myself and therefore have to approach people, "

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complains Carola the omissions of her education. After graduation, therefore, sought a tax adviser and joined the union ver.di. These offer members legal advice and protection, including when it comes to membership in the favorable artist social insurance or pension insurance issues. But the union also once helped Carola act against it when her works were illegally used for advertising purposes. Carola found it far more difficult to establish herself as an artist on the market:

"The most important thing for an artist is to attract attention and stand out from others - because the competition is big. This works by creating your own profile, repeatedly applying for scholarships, exhibiting, printing catalogs, establishing contacts and creating your own projects. Of course, this is very time-consuming, costs time, money - and it can take many years to succeed. "

In the beginning Carola did not know how to start. Therefore, she first sought advice in artist magazines such as Atelier. Today with the Internet, it's easier: the Federal Association of Visual Artists and the Association of Communities of Artists and Art Sponsors, for example, provide information on competitions, tenders and current events as well as numerous contact addresses on their websites. Another way to inform and exchange social networks like Xing or Facebook, but Carola finds too unspecific. Much more important for the Berlin artist are the local contacts, for example with potential sponsors, local politicians or foundations that decide on the next financing.

But also the contact to other artists, with whom Carola can communicate creatively, is necessary. Carola runs her studio together with a photographer. Her artistic unique feature is the Rümperiens, mythical creatures with black skin, the artist has known since her childhood in the North German Plain and now replicating - an idea that has already earned her numerous scholarships, including in Egypt and Russia. And also the current studio in Berlin-Marzahn got her as part of a funding program.

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However, lengthy application processes are necessary for this to work, because public and municipal funds are currently very scarce in Berlin. For this reason, Carola must write downright financing plans for some applications. She is currently preparing a catalog, the pressure of which is indeed being promoted by the Cultural Office; But to save costs, Carola will layout it himself - which means that she had to familiarize herself with software programs like Photoshop.

"The real work as an artist - creative in the studio - takes in the end only a maximum of 50 percent of everyday professional life. The rest of the time is spent on bureaucracy, computer work, finding sponsors, organizing projects, and maintaining contacts. "

Cleans up Carola Rümperer with false ideas. Even Carola is still sure to have found her dream job in the art, she advises therefore young people with artistic ambitions to re-examine their career aspiration exactly:

"As an artist, one often lives close to the subsistence level. Therefore, one should think early on how to secure financially. And you should also think about family planning and retirement planning in good time. Just because your own interests often change again in the course of your life, it may make sense to look for alternatives in similar professions that may be better paid. "

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As an archaeologist in science management

Overview

Find alternatives on time - Nadine Chmura took this advice to heart. She studied Classical Archeology, Ethnology and Islamic Art History at the University of Bonn and is now a Graduate Center for Humanities and Social Sciences. It was clear to her early on that a classic, scientific career was out of the question for her:

Find alternatives on time - have this advice Dr. Nadine Chmura takes heed. She studied Classical Archeology, Ethnology and Islamic Art History at the University of Bonn and today heads the Graduate Center for Humanities and Social Sciences. It was clear to her early on that a classical, scientific career was out of the question for her:

"Some former fellow students move up to the habilitation as a research assistant from one temporary position to the next and then beat with low-paid substitute professorships, hoping to get a regular professorship at a university. Especially in orchid subjects such as archeology but there are simply too few places. This way was therefore simply too risky for me. "

explains Nadine Chmura. Instead, she worked in the House of History, as an editorial employee at the online portal meinestadt.de, the Bonn Bernstein-Verlag, was a tour guide or did data collection and project work for a consulting company. She also worked for various higher education institutions such as the Laboratory for Experimental Economic Research, University of Bonn or the School of Economics of Shanghai-Jiao Tong University.

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"I have tried all the classical occupational fields for humanities scholars: museum, media, publishing house, university. In the end, science management simply interested me the most: By the time I got my MA thesis, I knew I would take that direction. "

explains Nadine Chmura. In order to achieve her goal, she took a position as a research assistant at the University of Marburg, where she organized events or led the press and public relations, in addition to her doctorate in archeology. After just one year, she became Managing Director and is now Coordinator of EcoSkills - Economic and Business Soft Skills, a project funded by the European Social Fund. The entry was not difficult:

"Since I have organizational tasks and I already had work experience, I found it comparatively easy to find a job. Especially as science management is still a very young industry. The basic requirement, however, was a doctorate in my case. "

Nadine Chmura explains and mentions yet another important prerequisite: The management experience and budget responsibility, which has been a recurring theme throughout all her previous jobs: Nadine was responsible for the project Living Virtual Museum Online in the Haus der Geschichte and supervised the Bernstein -Verlag the performances at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In addition, she has been President of the German Kafka Society, which she co-founded since 2006, and has organized numerous international conferences and exhibitions in this context. Students therefore advise them to gain as much work experience as possible:

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"You can also finance your studies through scholarships or BAföG. But if you work, you gain more experience that will help later! "

From Political Scientist to Social Network

Overview

Experience and enthusiasm were the key to success for Johannes Lenz as well. As Digital Consultant Corporate Communications, he is responsible for the internal and external communication of the Düsseldorf advertising agency Gray. At the same time, it did not look like a creative profession for a long time. After studying politics and diploma administration, Johannes initially wanted to become a classical student of scientific policy advice. However, despite relevant internships in embassies and companies at home and abroad, this did not quite work out. Even with the focus on public relations in the non-profit area, priorities EU, Eastern Europe, Came the graduate, despite previous experience, not further.

"At the time, I was writing about 150 applications and also doing some job interviews, attesting that I was just too close to the university. Overall a pretty frustrating time, "

John looks back today. An eight-month internship at the headquarters of the BMW Group brought the turnaround. Even though BMW did not offer him a job either, Johannes came into contact with social media for the first time in his life. And caught fire. Because blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Co. are far more than just new means of communication:

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"It is an attitude towards life that is characterized by openness, fairness and helpfulness. Actually, of course, one thinks, but perhaps this matter of course has arrived faster in the network than in real life. "

This enthusiasm was transferred to his CastingAfter just one month, he received a pledge from alma mater, a recruitment and career counseling firm, for an eighteen-month internship in corporate communications and online marketing. The scope of duties was broad, from the creation of newsletters to marketing messages, press releases, website maintenance, contact initiation and support, to trade fair and conference visits. But Johannes was curious about new things and wanted more:

"In the midst of the economic crisis, I convinced my boss, who allowed me to work almost independently and on my own responsibility, to represent alma mater in public and especially on the internet. This involved the integration of the social web, in particular the development of social media (Twitter and Co.) for corporate communications. "

Even though alma mater would have liked to take on the social media enthusiast, Johannes Lenz wanted to break new ground after his traineeship. And decided this time to abandon classic applications and use the Web 2.0 to find a new job - one that suited him:

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"Job search via Social Web means for me nowadays, according to his abilities and interests set up. This means creating selected social profiles that are regularly updated, seeking to exchange views and dialogue with other users while maintaining a sense of humor. You have to dare something, be open, approach others, not just take, but give. "

Through the variety of web activities Gray became aware of the political scientist - and invited him to a talk on social media and business. With great success:

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"The response was very good. It also came to a first get-together with the management and other employees. Subsequently, the contact with some employees via Twitter, Facebook and Co. intensified so much that it came to an invitation to a job interview. In the process, I have been asked to make one or the other assessment of social web projects. "

Today Johannes Lenz has the job he wanted: He works in the thematic triangle of PR, corporate communication and Web 2.0. He tweets, blogs, networks, attends conferences, develops concepts and strategies, and tries to convey the spirit of the social web. And he can contribute himself and his ideas. Therefore, he advises students in their job search to exploit all the possibilities:

"Every day you should try to develop your own curiosity. Be enthusiastic and not lose his optimism even in case of setbacks. "

Labor market and future perspectives in numbers

Overview

Last year, the Institute for Employment Research in its book series IAB-Bibliothek dedicated its own book to the "Labor market opportunities for mental studies scholars". The authors provide a detailed statistical analysis, but also show the problems that exist with exact statistics in this area:

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According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than 60.000 graduates of humanities or art studies graduated from German universities each year. Since the number of undergraduates in these subjects has dropped in recent years, the Conference of Ministers of Education from 2013 also assumes a decline in the number of graduates. However, there are only vague numbers regarding the whereabouts of these graduates on the labor market: job-specific unemployment rates are calculated by linking employment statistics and unemployment statistics. This means that in the unemployment statistics only those who are looking for a job in this field are found. Conversely, for example, a Germanist who generally looks for a teaching job or employment as a lecturer, would not even be attributed to a profession-specific group. Since 2005, some of the jobseekers also receive unemployment benefit II and are therefore no longer included in unemployment statistics.

This is the only way to explain the comparatively low levels of unemployment reported by the IAB every two years in its publication "Occupations in the mirror of statistics." 2009 was looking for a job for 44.878 people in the media, humanities and arts professions. In contrast, 278.061 employees were subject to social security contributions. By comparison, among the engineers in the same period were 682.384 employees, but only 25.321 unemployed.

In addition, the authors of the IAB also make some indications that the situation among the spiritual scientists in truth is even more difficult. For example, an evaluation of the microcensus shows that 13 percent of those employed by the social, cultural, and social sciences were in a fixed-term employment relationship - with other academics it was only 11,5 percent. More than 28 percent worked part-time (other graduates 17 percent) About 23 percent said they did not find full-time equivalent, another 9 percent work part time due to parallel training or education, more than 7 percent even have a marginal 400 employment Euro a month or less off (other academics 4 percent), three-quarters even as the only source of income. Up to 19 percent (exact surveys are unfortunately not available here) of humanities and cultural scientists work independently, not infrequently for lack of professional alternative and in a mix of different forms of employment. No wonder the average graduates of these subject groups earn less: the median net income here is between 1.700 and 2.000 Euro monthly, if you only use full-time employment, 2.000 through 2.300. For comparison, other groups of students earn 2.300 to 2.600 Euro on a monthly average.

There are perspectives

Overview

Nevertheless, as the three examples above show, the perspectives in the humanities and cultural studies are far from being as bad as these figures suggest: Due to changes in the world of work, qualified and knowledge-oriented occupations are becoming increasingly important. For example, the authors of the IAB for the professions Media, Humanities and Artists expect that new posts will be needed by the year 2020 200.000 - even though it is certainly not clear how these posts will be designed and paid for. But the authors also say clearly:

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"However, the humanities, cultural and social scientists should not wait for their underestimated innovation potential to be finally perceived by the economy, but instead engage in active self-marketing. Undoubtedly, a world without humanities, cultural and social sciences would be less humanitarian. But those who want to preserve the ABC of humanity in the future must prove that they can also take their place in the work society themselves. "


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