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Member Accolades

Profiles: Jerry Doran
Name Jerry Doran
College Northwestern University
Degree B.A. German and Economics
Current job title Social Media Manager
Employer Open Society Foundations
Location New York, NY

Why did you first start learning German?
A family trip to Germany when I was 12 years old was my first contact with German, and I became focused on learning it after that trip. Something about the language and having distant family ties to Germany encouraged me to learn more.
I was fortunate that my high school was one of the very few in my area that offered German, and it was consistently my favorite class in high school. It was here that I learned how much German knowledge could be beneficial later in life because of its academic, political and cultural importance as well as Germany's position as Europe's leading economy. I continued my German study at Northwestern, where I decided to major in it and Economics. The German Department was extremely supportive of me during my studies and is a major reason I have fond memories of college.

What did you get out of your German studies?
My study of German had been central to my academic career and knowing it has enriched many parts of my life. In addition to the language and intercultural skills I gained, I've met many close friends from many countries through studying German. My experience with German and other languages and study abroad in Germany and Turkey has helped me work with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Most of my professional experience has been in internationally-focused organizations in which good intercultural communication is vital for success.
Knowing German has also come in handy in unexpected places - from buying a beach towel on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast to getting advice from a fellow traveler on what time was best to visit Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market - both in German in places I would have thought English would be more useful as a lingua franca.
Language skills - no matter which language you decide to study - are vastly important in giving you an intercultural perspective and setting yourself apart in the job market.

What influence did German have on your career choices?
My main professional interest lies at the intersection of international and public affairs and media, especially online media. This could have been different if it were not for German. In my senior year of college, a new boutique PR firm was looking for German speakers as interns. I applied to the internship not looking for one in this particular industry. I was hired and quickly learned about digital media marketing and analysis. I stayed on with the company for a time after graduation and made it a career goal to find other positions that married my interest in digital media with other languages and cultures.

How do you use German today at home or in your work?
Most of my current work is in English, but knowing German has come in handy occasionally in work situations. I work for an international organization that recently opened an office in Berlin, and we post web and social media content in German, so I help with translations and proofreading pieces before they're published.
On personal level, I use German to communicate with a variety of friends, both in and from Germany and elsewhere, on a consistent basis. Without German, I believe that I could not have developed these deep personal ties.

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