Kristin Yaworsk German and Slavic Studies Alumni
Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?
I am currently employed by the University of Waterloo, where I am also pursuing a Master of Arts in Intercultural German Studies. My job is to assist those in the German department with various tasks, such as grading assignments, monitoring online language courses and collecting and organizing data for the department’s website. What I find most rewarding about this job is the opportunity to use and improve my German language skills. The greatest challenge is assisting others with their language learning—at times multiple teaching strategies must be employed in order for a student to have an “aha” moment.
What experiences and activities helped you to map out your career pathway?
I grew up in an area of Winnipeg where many individuals speak German or have German ancestry. This led to me attending a German bilingual program throughout most of my younger years. However, it wasn’t until I enrolled in German language courses at the university level that I began to develop a passion for the language itself, as well as the culture. I began to recognize the doors that knowing another language would open for me. I no longer imagined having career opportunities in Canada but also in Germany. I talked to the head of the department about what I needed to do to improve my language usage, attend university in Germany and continue on in academia. I am incredibly grateful that I was indeed given the advice I needed to do all these things.
As a student, did you see yourself in your current career? What stayed the same and/or changed?
I always knew that I wanted to work within the realm of academia and education. However, as I continue my studies, I find that I am constantly contemplating new careers and areas of study to pursue.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in german and slavic studies?
If you have even an inkling of interest in German language, culture or history, do not hesitate to pursue this degree. The skills and knowledge that you will acquire during your studies will prove invaluable to you, not only in your career, but also in your day-to-day life. I have learned to think critically, communicate effectively and expanded my intercultural competence. Also, reach out to faculty members in the department and engage them in a meaningful conversation about what you hope to accomplish in your studies, academically or professionally. Their knowledge can prove invaluable to pointing you in the direction you want to go.
What job search advice do you have for students and recent graduates?
Be flexible and take chances. Consider taking a job that requires you to relocate to a different neighbourhood, province or country. Moreover, apply to jobs that may be slightly outside of what you might deem to be your skill set. The challenges presented in these situations will only prove to be meaningful learning experiences.
Tell us a fun fact about your career path.
As a result of my studies, I’ve managed to spend a considerable amount of time living and studying in Germany. Fully immersing myself in the culture there made me question a number of the beliefs I held about myself and my identity as a Canadian. It became clear to me, during this time spent abroad, that my future life and career plans could involve living outside of Canada—a somewhat frightening but thrilling thought.