We are very happy to announce another enjoyable “mentoring lunch” with a Germanics alum and current majors. On November 16, Elise Kalstad (class of 2012) joined three Germanics students for a chat over sandwiches at the UW club. Elise works to improve health care for low-income mothers with International Community Health Services (ICHS), a local non-profit organization. She shared the story of the path to her current career, her hopes for the future, and tales of working with German in Seattle. (My favorite tip: Want to learn Bayrisch from jolly German Omis? Apply for a job at Bavarian Meats in Pike Place Market!)
Present were three of our bright young seniors and juniors: Niki Sohnly, Laila Collins, and Hayley McCord. Elise and the students got along famously, and the conversation continued long after all the food had been devoured. They all expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and ideas afterwards.
Elise: “It's always interesting to hear how students ended up selecting German as their major and what role they see it playing in their lives. I really wish I had had the opportunity to talk with Germanics graduates when I started in the major. I know it was difficult for me to see how I could use the major to secure a job I was passionate about. And I know that even though I'm not using my German skills on the job now, in the future, it'll be very useful (especially this summer!). It was most useful to learn about what it would take to live and work in Germany-- whether you do it as a graduate student, an au pair, an intern, or if you can secure a job-- it's encouraging just knowing that other people in similar situations have been successful.
Niki: “Thank you to the department for putting on a lovely event. It was nice to be able to talk to other students within the major and hear about their plans for their German degree, as well as seeing how someone who graduated with a degree made it work in their professional career. The biggest takeaway I got from this was that a degree in a foreign language does more than prepare you for a career in which all you would do would be speaking the language. I learned that you can pair a language degree with almost anything. It can be something common like doing business in a foreign country, or more complex like helping provide health or legal services to people who can't speak English perfectly. The possibilities are endless with this kind of degree, and there is so much more that it can offer then just the stereotypical idea of translation.”
Laila: “The lunch event was a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of knowledgeable program veterans, faculty members, and even fellow students. I not only got to know these people better, but acquired the seeds of ideas for future study and career paths, as well as a better appreciation of the Germanics program and all it offers. Thanks again to the Germanics department for an enjoyable and enlightening luncheon. Thanks to Elise for taking the time to talk to us about extant opportunities in the Seattle area and abroad.”
A few words from our alum and mentor, Elise Kalstad:
"I graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a BA in Germanics and Political Science and went on to pursue a Masters of Public Administration at the UW Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. At the Evans School my focus was on International Development and I interned and worked for a number of non-profit organizations that provide services for international communities both locally and abroad. After graduation, I was hired by International Community Health Services, a community health center in King County, and currently work as a Quality Improvement Specialist. While I'm unfortunately not able to use German in my role at ICHS, I will be in Germany for a month this summer and would love to work and live there in the future!"