Sep 03, 2012
Marcel Kaiser, 24, has been enrolled in the master’s degree program in Management and Marketing for one year. He is currently spending his required semester abroad at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He has been receiving support for the past year through a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship from Freie Universität Berlin.
What changed for you as a result of the aid you received?
I was able to cut back on working, so I can focus more on my studies. Besides that, sharing experience with my sponsor and mentor provided a wealth of new impetus and helped me to work actively on important issues.
Why is the Deutschlandstipendium more appealing to you than other aid programs?
It offers a good balance between financial and subject-specific support. I have been receiving support from an extremely engaged entrepreneur with a medium-sized business since the start of my master’s program.
How, specifically, does that person support you?
He is a very experienced entrepreneur and an expert on marketing. That’s a perfect fit for me, not just because my studies are focused on management and marketing, but also because I have a great interest in the startup sector, so we have a good basis for sharing experience.
Getting my sponsor’s perspective as an experienced entrepreneur on my specific questions is also very helpful. My contact with him has definitely exceeded my expectations. If we can’t meet in person – like now, because I am out of the country – we stay in touch by e-mail.
In addition to financial support, Freie Universität also offers a mentoring program that puts scholarship recipients in touch with an experienced professional to act as a mentor. Has your contact with your mentor been as regular as with your sponsor?
We meet regularly right up until I left for Australia. Every time we met, we set out a specific emphasis and talked about that. It has really worked great so far, and I am very hopeful that we will be able to stay in touch personally in the future as well.
How, specifically, have you benefited from the mentoring that has accompanied the program?
I have especially benefited from the analysis of my specific questions from a second perspective. For example, my mentor helped me set out the specifics of my career plans. His extensive experience working for different businesses in Germany and in other countries was especially helpful with that.
The recipients of the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship at Freie Universität already have an extensive network with each other – are there plans to forge ties beyond that?
The vast majority of scholarship recipients felt right from the start that it was important for us to stay in touch with each other. We have been very successful at that so far. There is a Facebook group, and we also talk in person during regular meetings. I think it would really be a valuable addition for the whole scholarship program if we could also forge ties with other groups at the university. Organized contact in the form of things like the alumni network could be highly beneficial to those of us who have received the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship.