Alumni

Ben Ziomek, ’13: Guiding Investments in Startups and Global Software Firms Across Continents

Ben Ziomek, ’13: Guiding Investments in Startups and Global Software Firms Across Continents
March 01, 2017 02:30pm

While Ben admits that most of his business contacts in Europe can speak English, he claims that “the true value I got from my German studies [at Bowdoin] went beyond language.”

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Ben is based in Seattle, WA and works for Microsoft, where, in his words, he “guides investments in startups and global software firms, working with teams across six continents (including in Germany) to help each company build products using Microsoft technologies. When he's not flying from London to Singapore, you'll often find him in San Francisco, collaborating with A.I. startups to apply their technologies globally.”

While Ben admits that most of his business contacts in Europe can speak English, he claims that “the true value I got from my German studies [at Bowdoin] went beyond language.” That value, he contends, had to do with learning about the historical and ideological contexts of the works he studied in German. “German at Bowdoin was about learning to think like the great German thinkers of history and today, with the language being a tool to truly understanding them.”

Ben highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the German major and fondly remembered how it allowed him to research and write a successful honors project (with Birgit Tautz) that “put a cultural spin on the economic and geopolitical aspects of 19th-century Sino-German relations.”

“German was basically three majors in one: the German language, German literature, and the German philosophical perspective on the world.” The latter component of the German major, Ben argues, is the one that “helps me every day in my work: The ability to take on another’s perspective on something very complex. Sure, I may not speak
German as often as I would like, but every day I need to see what I'm
doing from the perspective of a software developer in Malaysia, a
salesperson in South Africa, or indeed a businessman in Germany and
then take their interests to heart in the programs I'm building. My experience in the German department at Bowdoin is what gave me the foundation I need to do this successfully.”

Ben was a German and Economics major with a minor in Chinese Language.

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Marta Misiulaityte, ’14: Researching Refugee Asylum Experience in Germany

Marta Misiulaityte, ’14: Researching Refugee Asylum Experience in Germany
January 20, 2017 03:56pm

As for how her study of German at Bowdoin shaped her post-graduate life, Marta says: “I literally owe my post-grad life to the Bowdoin German Department!"

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What Marta is doing now:

Marta is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sociology at the Freie Universität (Free University) in Berlin, Germany and is working as a research assistant at the Communications Studies Institute at the University and as a research assistant at the Experts’ Council on German Foundations for Integration and Migration. The latter position helps her to utilize both her Arabic and her German language skills.

Here’s Marta in her own words, discussing her current position and its role in the recent wave of migration to Europe from Arab countries:

“The research division of the interdisciplinary Experts' Council both supports the work of the Council and produces original research on many aspects of integration and migration in Germany. I am an assistant in a qualitative study investigating the situation of refugees who are in the early stages of their asylum application. My most significant responsibility involves organizing and coordinating the interviews with asylum seekers from six different countries of origin, residing in three federal states, in both urban and rural environments. Aside from that, I conduct literature research, compile information in several languages to hand out to refugees, translate presentations, coordinate travel, transcribe interviews and undertake a wide variety of ad hoc tasks as they arise. It has been extremely rewarding to be able to direct my time and energy to a project that highlights the refugees' own voices by letting them speak about the successes and challenges of their first steps in Germany. The job is fast-paced and sometimes linguistically demanding, but I feel supported and appreciated by my team. Above all, knowing that the study's results will be used to form concrete proposals for political actors and other stakeholders to improve the lives of refugees in Germany continues to motivate me to keep doing my best.”

As for how her study of German at Bowdoin shaped her post-graduate life, Marta says:
“I literally owe my post-grad life to the Bowdoin German Department!

Marta earned a Double major in German and Sociology, plus 3 years of Arabic.

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