Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thought on Campus Career Night Event

Tonight I went to a career-event for the Russian and Eastern European Studies Department. Among other things, I found out that it's important to have a niche, which was the main point. And to work for a major newspaper you don't necessarily have to have a degree in that field. What I know, and have been told before, is that it all comes down to who you know. Networking is big too. One example:
One of the graduate students had worked for The Moscow Times. I had emailed that newspaper last year, asking if they were hiring. After emailing one of the editors, and sending writing samples, I was told that there were no openings. I told this to the graduate student tonight, who suggested to email said editor again and see what happens. He also put me in touch with a former student who currently works for the paper.

Furthermore, one of the professors had said that if you go into academia it's good to have a narrow focus, but nowadays (instead of 30 years ago), it's also good to have a broad knowledge of the area you're into. However, my area ---or, the one I'd like to go into-- is so narrow that is it possible to look at it with an interdisciplinary lense? Then I was thinking, I can come at this extremely narrow field from another angle: From an ethnic/minority studies perspective. Yes. I can look at this field from a minority studies perspective. Not only look at the languages, but also the people, who, while living in a country which is part of the European Union, their ethnicity and way of life is continuously being repressed by the government of the republic in which they live. The ultimate form of Russification, if you will, at least for them. I could be a minority affairs advocate, for this field but ethnic rights across Europe, in particular the situation concerning ethnic Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin or Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant-thing (which has been going on since 1066, pretty much).

I've digressed but bear with me. So, talking to the professor after he spoke, he said public policy may be something to look into (since I like talking to people), so I can help affect these minority peoples by talking to people high up in the EU decision-making process who can secure legislation for these small groups who are being persecuted. Or some sort. At least this is the general direction I have right now.

Another speaker tonight talked about how he worked in Russia for Ernst & Young. Worked in Siberia (Yes, no joke!) 200 miles south of the Artic Circle. After he said that provinces in the area are rich in oil, natural gas, my mind starting putting things together:

Minority peoples in Russia, one in particular -- which is being persecuted for not completely assilimilating to the Russian way of life -- live in a province abundant in lakes, forests, and natural resources many countries would love to get their hands on. Simultaneously, they are up against government officials who want to completely eradicate their culture and way of life.

How would it be, for example, if the president of said republic were to carry out an ethnic genocide so he could exploit the province's resources? Hopefully that won't happen. And, why is it that people are afraid of what is different from them? Be you Jewish, or in this case, a different ethnicity from the general population of the state (as in nation, or country) in which you are living?

I've been thinking, and I could do ethnic/minority rights in Russia for this-extremely-narrow-field and as an American, have a distinctive niche in the EU hierarchy. If I spoke the several less common languages, AND knew the cultures inside and out, I would totally have a job.

That's my goal now. Luckily, I have found 3 schools in 2 English-speaking countries where I can incorporate this narrow field with a broader Eastern European Studies MA. Hopefully one will work out! And I'll find out about said schools by April 1. More updates to come!

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