Alumni Spotlight: Therese Mager

Where do you work now?

I work at the Global and European Studies Institute (GESI) at Leipzig University.


What is your current position/title?

My current title is Project Manager, and I have taken on some university program coordination tasks as well.


When did you work at Fraunhofer IMW?

I worked as a student assistant at Fraunhofer IMW from December 2018 to September 2019.


What division/unit did you work in?

I supported the Marketing and Communication Division as an International Communications Assistant.


What is your educational background?

Most recently, I completed a joint master’s degree in Global Studies from Ghent University and Leipzig University. Before that, I studied Languages, Literature, and Foreign Civilizations at the University of Limoges in France, and I also have a bachelor’s degree in French from Missouri State University in the U.S. (my home country).


How did your education and places of residence help prepare you for your work at Fraunhofer IMW?

Having worked in several countries and studied languages as well as social sciences, I was well-prepared to adapt quickly to an unfamiliar and multilingual environment in a new city. Moreover, thanks to my experience working for a French e-commerce company, I was already trained in optimizing articles for the web, dealing with different content management systems, and preparing newsletters, among other things. That said, there was definitely a learning curve, especially when it came to German administrative paperwork!


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

As I was often preparing English-language articles and press releases about Fraunhofer IMW projects, I was constantly researching the science behind them to make sure my translations were accurate. I learned about blockchain, CRISPR technology, freshwater mussels, solar power systems… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I was fortunate, too, in that several Fraunhofer research topics (for example, sustainable energy transitions) were related to what I was learning about in my Global Studies master’s program.


How did your experience at Fraunhofer IMW help you develop the transnational communication skills needed in your new position?

Working at Fraunhofer IMW certainly helped me to improve my German, for one thing! As my introduction to the German-language working world, it also taught me how to communicate effectively with my colleagues here. I learned how to make the most of meetings as communication opportunities and how to be more thoughtful and strategic when communicating via email. Finally, my time at Fraunhofer IMW taught me about working together with colleagues to improve work flows, prioritize certain tasks, and reach our goals as a team. These skills have all been very useful for my new position.  


What projects are you currently working on and what do you really enjoy about your new job?

Speaking of alumni, one of my biggest tasks at the moment is to arrange a week-long virtual conference for graduates of my institute! It has so far been a fantastic learning experience, and one that I think will prove valuable in our transformed working world. Another part of my job is welcoming international students, and I truly enjoy helping them through the complicated—but exciting—process of getting settled in a new country.


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

I was always impressed by how much the different teams at Fraunhofer IMW took care of their employees. In the Marketing and Communication Division, my colleagues paid attention to everyone’s birthdays, held small gatherings for employees’ departures, and of course made sure we all felt invited to any company-wide gatherings. As my student assistantship lasted less than a year, I was touched that the team prepared a parting gift and gathering for me when I left the institute.


What is your lasting impression of Fraunhofer IMW?

My lasting impression of the institute is a positive one, not only because I enjoyed working with the team, but also because I see so much opportunity in the institute’s many research projects. Fraunhofer IMW is working to anticipate changes in the fields of sustainable development, the knowledge economy, digitzation and more., and to provide society with the tools needed to face an uncertain future. Looking back, I’m truly grateful to have been a part of this innovative organization!