Alumni and Careers

Chester Eng

Chester Eng

Class of: 2011

Major(s): German

My experiences with the German Department are defining features of my Bowdoin education.

Chester Eng

In addition to becoming fluent in another language, learning German taught me to think, write, and speak more creatively and articulately. I have been able to discover and to go to more places, both literally and metaphorically, because I studied German at Bowdoin. I feel more enlightened and intellectually capable because of the skills, knowledge, and love of learning that the German Department helped me to discover, develop, and deepen during my four years at the College.

One pleasantly surprising practical way German has benefited me recently is that my knowledge of the language has helped me to communicate and to connect with Kosovars when I cannot do so in English or Albanian. A considerable number of Kosovars speak German because they have lived and worked in German-speaking countries before.

Ben Ziomek

Ben Ziomek

Class of: 2013

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.

About Ben

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.”

Marta Misiulaityte

Marta Misiulaityte

Class of: 2014

Major(s): German, Sociology

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!

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!

David Vasquez

Class of: 2014

Major(s): German

David was founder of AlphaSights' San Francisco office until April 2018 and is currently working for Michael McCullough, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock Partners. In the Fall, David will pursue his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

What David is doing now:

At AlphaSights, I worked on over 80 cases spanning multiple countries and industries. Though most Analysts/Associates only work within their teams, I had the opportunity to engage with several teams across the firm as one of the only German speakers in the office. As part of the Associate role, employees are required to engage industry experts to gather insights and market data, and having German skills was essential for many manufacturing and healthcare related projects. Using my German language skills, I was able to engage experts and gather insights that would have otherwise been impossible to obtain.

a headshot of Brenna Nicely

Brenna Nicely

Class of: 2010

Location: Boston, MA

Major(s): English, German

Brenna Nicely is the Education and Community Programs Manager at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as a stage director, dramaturg, translator, and playwright based in Greater Boston. Recent dramaturgy credits include multiple productions at the American Repertory Theater, plus projects with the Moscow Art Theatre, Boston Experimental Theatre, Fort Point Theater Channel, and Goethe-Institut Boston.

How has studying Theater and Dance impacted your perspective (personally, professionally, or other)?

I believe that studying theater (and other art forms) has made me more confident in myself and my work; specific and responsive to details; and more in touch with myself, the world, and those around me. I’ve seen my peers and students on similar journeys. While I have been lucky to build a professional career in theater, I think the more lasting impact in studying the arts is carrying this type of learning, empathy, and creativity into every part of our lives.

What are the one or two events, courses or people that stand out in your mind from your time at Bowdoin?

I have many fond memories of Bowdoin, but some of the highlights include Suzan Lori-Parks’ guest lecture, sharing a meal with Edward Albee, and knitting a scarf onstage while wearing a corset during a production of Measure for Measure.

Do you have any advice for current students at Bowdoin?

Remember that you are building your personal and professional support networks right now. There are a wealth of resources in front of you that are not always easy to see at first. Take advantage of the opportunities Bowdoin provides for you, support your peers, and thank people often.