Alumni Spotlight: Ian Strahn

When did you work at Fraunhofer IMW?  

I worked at Fraunhofer IMW from November 2019 until April 2021. 

What division/unit did you work in? 

Marketing and Communications as an International Communications Assistant

What are you studying?  

I am completing my masters in Global Studies. 

How do you see the field you are studying changing in the future?

Global Studies is a relatively new field, which seeks to understand processes of globalization through an interdisciplinary lens. Obviously, globalization has been intensifying rapidly throughout my entire lifetime. Today, it is clear that many of the most acute problems facing humanity are global in nature. Furthermore, it is clear that the increased connectedness of our world has presented a host of solutions to these challenges. Increased digitization and human mobility offer us valuable opportunities to address our problems as a species. It is my hope that as Global Studies itself becomes more and more necessary, that the study of other cultures and societies generally becomes mainstream in personal and public life. 

What are your immediate plans after finishing with your studies?

I moved to Vienna and have been working on various professional and creative projects. Currently, I am editing a podcast which will be intended for a German-speaking audience about the social and political change taking place in the western United States.

Can you please elaborate a little on your podcast?

The podcast is called “Northcountry: ein deutsch-amerikanischer Streifzug durch Montana,” and is being produced in cooperation with the German American Institute of Saxony and the Fulbright Commission. Listeners will accompany my colleague and I on our travels through Montana in which we interview experts on the topics of U.S. history and the construction of a national mythos, political polarization and Trumpism in America, and the country’s urban/rural divide. The goal is to build more transnational understanding and interest between the United States and the German-speaking world. The three-part series will be released in late November on the website of the German American Institute and all major listening platforms. 

How did your time at Fraunhofer IMW complement your studies?

Through my time at Fraunhofer IMW I was able to work in an international environment with colleagues from a range of academic and professional disciplines. This taught me important interpersonal and intercultural communication skills and gave me a window into the norms of professional life in Germany.

What did you find particularly interesting about your work at Fraunhofer IMW?  

Because I was working mostly in translation, I was always excited to read about the various projects taking place under the auspices of Fraunhofer IMW. I was especially interested in projects with a global dimension, such as the development work being done in southeast Asia.

What skills/experiences were gained and how did it prepare you to pursue a career in globalisation processes?  

I learned how to work in a diverse and dynamic team and how to communicate across linguistic and cultural barriers. Although it took almost half the pandemic, I finally learned how to use Microsoft Teams.

The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has focused on institutional and individual resilience as a means of combatting the Covid-19 pandemic. How can businesses, governments and institutions help build up structural economic resilience in these uncertain times? 

I think the pandemic tested everyone’s ability to show resilience. Ideally, our places of work are sources of resilience rather than an environment in which resilience is drained. This can be achieved when work feels meaningful and when the social connections between colleagues are fulfilling and genuine. Social programs, good wages, positive work environments and concepts like the “Resilienzstunde” can help foster personal resilience.

What was your most memorable moment as a team member of Fraunhofer IMW? 

Most of my time working at Fraunhofer IMW was spent in “home office” conditions. During this time, some new people joined the team. At the end of my time there, I began going into the office in person again and the moment in which I saw some of those faces which I had only ever met online for the first time, was both surreal and wonderful. I also will never forget the picture of Phil posing next to a “P” constructed out of puzzle pieces which he had made for Dirk’s birthday. 

What is your lasting impression of Fraunhofer IMW?  

I will remember Fraunhofer IMW as a work environment in which leadership was accessible and seeking solutions. The organization, though relatively new, is on its way to making meaningful global change through a wide variety of projects and interpersonal connections. 

What future goals are you working towards?  

I hope to work in the field of audio journalism, specifically focusing on topics of international or global significance like migration, populism, climate change and transnational social movements.