Alumni Relations Management

Alumni in focus: HR manager Konstanze Reith (Axel Springer SE) on starting out in a career, networking and the world of work in the future

How does a cultural studies graduate become HR manager at Axel Springer, Europe’s leading digital publisher? At our “Junior Alumni Career Talks” on 10 April 2018, Dr Konstanze Reith, CAU alumna in European Ethnology, shared her experiences with almost 100 students and graduates from Kiel University. She took a lot of time to answer everyone’s questions. A cross-section in the Alumni Blog: read more

How did your studies at Kiel University contribute towards your career development?

“During my studies and my doctoral degree, I focussed on biographies, and learnt methodological skills and interview techniques which are now very useful in my role as HR manager. The degree also taught me to think systematically, how to deal with languages and how to communicate - all important aspects in your professional life.”

Konstanze Reith bei den Junior Alumni Career Talks
Junior Alumni Career Talks (click to enlarge)Photo: J. Winters, Uni Kiel

How is a successful transition from studying to working possible?

“Collecting professional experience from an early stage is important. Work experience should last at least three to six months. Another important thing is to take the time during your degree and to expand your horizons - travel, learn a new language, don’t race through your studies without looking around you just to finish as soon as possible. A Master’s degree will improve your chances of getting a job, but if you don’t have any practical experience, then a Master’s or PhD won’t help if you want to have a career in industry.”

Konstanze Reith
Konstanze Reith (click to enlarge)Photo: J. Winters, Uni Kiel

Is building up networks during your studies important?

“Yes. Building up a network is crucial for career development - this is something we pass on to our interns and trainees at Axel Springer. Part of their supervision involves inviting them to regular dinners and regular company visits at our partners. In my case, I got all my jobs through personal recommendations, and as HR manager I also use my personal networks to look for new employees.”

What factors are important for an application, and what is ultimately the decider?

“You don’t have to meet every criteria in a job description, but you need to be able to sell yourself. You learn how to do this through life experience and training. Applicants should ask themselves: ‘Which things can I do that are relevant for this job?’, ‘What am I passionate about?’, ‘Why do I want exactly this job with this company?’ We want to see this enthusiasm. Authenticity is more important than a perfect performance; in cases of doubt personality and spirit are the decisive factors!”

Which skills will employers expect more in the future?

“We are currently experiencing a cultural change across all sectors, which also has an impact on the working world. Framework conditions are constantly changing, and so too are the job descriptions. A pragmatic mindset is therefore important - don’t be afraid, and use your opportunities instead. Specialist skills will remain important, but soft skills like flexibility, intercultural skills and language skills are also incredibly relevant.”

A big thank you goes to Konstanze Reith for her time and her career tips!

Have fun networking!

Unterschrift M. Mika

Mareike Mika M.A. 
Alumni Relations Management
Kiel University
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU)