The objective of our initiative ‘Where are they now?’ is to create a forum or a bridge for German alumni to share their career stories with current students, and for students to ask alumni questions about careers. We kicked off the project in June 2017, by emailing German alumni, asking them if they would be willing to share their career stories with current students of German studies. Response was very positive, with over 15 alumni from a wide variety of careers, inside and outside of academia, indicating their interest in participating.
This project was led by Joan Andersen, as part of her volunteer position as Alumni Ambassador and Executive in Residence. Joan is a German alumna of the University of Toronto, and moved into a career outside of German studies after graduating with a Master’s Degree. Joan conducted a telephone or email interview with each participant with the objective or drafting a 5-8 minute long article profiling his/her career.
We will publish one or two ‘Career Profile’ articles every month which we hope our readers will find informative and maybe even inspirational. We welcome your feedback on this initiative by sending Joan an email at email@example.com
Our seventh article profiles the career of Nate Reul.
Welcome to this edition of ‘Where are they now’? In this article, we profile Nate Reul – UofT 2011. I hope you find this article interesting and maybe even inspirational.
Nate was born and raised in New York State. He attended the University of Toronto where German was his minor and Psychology and History were his double major. He also studied abroad at the University of Bonn. After graduating in 2011, he worked for a few months and then decided to do his Masters of History at the University of Maryland. He chose to focus on German history. While at school, he did internships in the Maryland legislature and then in the House of Representatives for 6 months. After graduating with his Masters, he obtained a full-time position in a non-profit advocacy organization in Washington DC. He was also the U of T DC alumni representative.
Nate has just recently started a new job with the New York State government. We caught up with Nate at his office in Albany, New York.
1. What made you decide to pursue German studies at the U of T?
My family was originally from Germany and I have relatives there too. I felt close to Germany and to German as part of my heritage. I wanted to learn German as part of ‘who I was’. I thought Psychology would be my career track but as time went on, I found myself enjoying German more and I did better academically in my German studies.
2. Describe your current position and job responsibilities. What career path lead you to your current job?
I work for New York State as a State Budget Officer. My job is to oversee the state budget and deal with issues as they arise around budgeting and policy positions. I got this job because of my experience in Washington DC in a similar role.
3. How did you come to select this position as your career?
I did not purposefully choose this career but it has worked out well for me. In grad school, I was still uncertain of my career track. I majored in German history and so married my love of German with that of history and that’s when I decided that I wanted to do work in the area of public policy, which led me to my current role. I am maintaining my German language skills from living abroad.
4. What does a typical day at work for you look like?
I do lots of analysis and oversight of fiscal activities. I am part of a team which oversees a state agency with a $5 billion budget and 2,000 employees. I have to track the state budget by day and by activity. I work with government and state legislators. I also analyse the cost implication of proposed legislation so there is a lot of number crunching.
5. What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety – every day is different and my duties are very diverse. I like that my work is important to a lot of people. I help oversee the second largest state budget in the US and must always remember to take actions which improve people’s lives and to examine the impact of all decisions on all groups in the work which we do. The days are long and busy but extremely rewarding.
6. What are some of the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis?
My challenges centre on the fact that I am new to the job – I had to relocate and there is lots to learn and pick up as quickly as possible. When I worked in DC, I was working at the federal level; this role is not as broad as it is focussed on one state. There are similarities and differences which have to be learned and applied.
7. What skills do you possess that make you a good fit for your current job?
My skills at analysis, reading and writing from my graduate studies. In grad school, you learn how to read and summarize a 500 page book in one paragraph; these skills are needed when evaluating, costing out and analysing the impact of proposed legislation on the various groups. Like at university, we work with close and multiple deadlines for many projects and the request for a quick turnaround of all analyses.
8. How have your German studies equipped you with the skills you need to do your job?
I only took the languages courses. I did not study literature. My motivation to study German led me to do a Masters in German History, and I became aware of current issues and the need for involvement to help others and give back. That is how I decided to become involved in public policy and government as my career track.
9. What are your ultimate career goals?
I think I want to stay in this career area. I grew up in New York and public service has always been a strong value for me. Government policy is supposed to improve citizens’ lives. I would like to grow and advance to more complex, larger public sector roles.
10. What do you do in your spare time?
I am still taking the research which I started with my Masters’ degree and writing papers for History Conferences and articles for publication in academic history journals. With my German heritage, it’s no surprise that I also homebrew beer.
11. What advice do you have for German students who are pursuing their studies with the goal of securing meaningful employment post-graduation?
Keep an open mind. Any language that you have learned, opens your mind up to another world or culture. If you are able to learn another language in addition to your native one, you are able to learn everything else. Be proactive – if you are asked to show how your language skills can be applied to a specific role, be prepared to show how learning the language and its corresponding culture along with the ‘transferable skills’ that you have learned, can be applied to a myriad of roles in the business world.
12. What advice do you have for graduates seeking positions abroad?
Try to gain experience of the system you are seeking to enter into through other opportunities. You can rarely make this leap otherwise.
13. For those readers who want to learn more, how can they contact you?
By email at: firstname.lastname@example.org