May 17, 2017

Today in conversation with: Kirsten Virginia Glenn, BSc MSc (Associate Project Analyst, IAEA) MSc ETIA Alumna Class 2013-2015

1.    Why did you choose the ETIA master course at TU Wien?
After having obtained my bachelor's degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Vienna, I decided to pursue a Master's degree in the environmental field, as nutrition and the environmental dovetail as issues in my opinion. Both fields are important for global and particularly human welfare – for example, global warming poses a threat to sufficient food for the world's population owing to rising sea levels, increased drought and a growing lack of enough fresh water. Due to that, I chose the ETIA master course at TU Wien as I believe that expertise on both issues will be essential in the future in dealing successfully with them. Furthermore, having grown up abroad as the daughter of a US diplomat has stimulated my interest in other cultures and languages and emphasized to me the importance of a career dealing with challenges facing the international community. Therefore, I wanted to add International Affairs to my curriculum to broaden my scope of understanding of all issues in the political, economic and legal fields.

2.    What advice would you want to give to new prospective ETIA master course students- what should they know?
In my opinion it is most important that every applicant bear in mind that ETIA is a multidisciplinary programme; although you will learn a lot about environmental technology and international affairs, you will not become an expert in either. Your background will determine your focus and success. I remember that students with a natural science background tended to struggle more during the first year at the Diplomatic Academy, whereas students with a background in the arts found the second year at TU Wien more challenging.

3.     How did you benefit from the program personally?

I benefited from the program in a two-fold way: first, through networking and receiving career advice and second, from the multi-disciplinarity of the ETIA program itself.
Regarding the former: during my time at the Diplomatic Academy and TU Wien, I had the chance to meet many people from different backgrounds (students, professors and guest lecturers to name a few), who gave me valuable advice on how to go about starting my professional career. I made use of the strong alumni network, by meeting alumni already working in the fields that interested me – today, I am lucky to have integrated this network into my circle of friends. Furthermore, I went to all career talks (i.e., lectures held by different companies and their representatives on career possibilities) offered by the Academy that were of interest to me. What especially helped me was the advice Dr. Elisabeth Hofer, Head of the Student Service Center and Career Center at the Diplomatic Academy, gave me during our “career meeting” (i.e., a student counseling session Ms. Hofer offers to all students on an individual basis) - I received tips on how best to design my CV, to underline my individuality and emphasize my qualifications at the same time.
Regarding the latter: as mentioned before, the ETIA program combines many subjects that at first glance do not have a clear link. Now, more than ever, I find that I am making use of the multidisciplinary links I forged in my time as a student in my job – by combining the fields of the environment and international affairs, I am able to successfully help, for example, with the development of laws and regulations in the field of nuclear applications in science and technology.

4.    What comes to your mind when you think about the program? What were the highlights?
Personally, I think of many hours spent studying and partying. No, just kidding! Of course there was a lot of work to be done, but building friendships, not only with my fellow students in the ETIA program but indeed across all programs offered by the Diplomatic Academy was a highlight for me. I enjoyed being one of the ETIA “course speakers” as I got to get together with my course speaker counterparts from other Diplomatic Academy master-degree programs once a week to discuss current events, wishes and complaints. This meant that we had to work closely with the Diplomatic Academy and TU Wien administrations, as well as professors, which did lead to occasional distress and many happy hours!
I especially enjoyed our trip to Brussels, where we had the chance to learn a lot about the European Union and its functions and visit the NATO Headquarters. I must say that one big disappointment was that ETIA students were not allowed to join other Diplomatic Academy students in the Balkan's trip, and I hope that this will be rectified in the future. Luckily, ETIA students can participate in the French classes offered by the academy - les cours étaient très amusants et je n'oublierai jamais mes professeurs et collègues! Of course the annual DA Ball, put together by the student ball committee, was and still is a highlight for me!

5.    What job plans do you have for the next 3-5 years?
Regarding my job plans, I just started my appointment at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an Associate Project Analyst in the Department of the Technical Cooperation, Division for Latin America and the Caribbean in December 2016. I am very excited to be working for such a renowned international organization and hope to be employed here at the Agency or another international organization in the future. Of course, I would also be interested in working as a diplomat, seeing how I was fortunate enough to grow up abroad with parents working in the diplomatic arena. I believe that my diverse educational and professional history, including nutrition, environmental technology and international affairs has provided me with a strong foundation that would be extremely beneficial for positions in an international organization or governmental department.

6.    What are your hobbies?
I have a wide range of hobbies including travelling, learning languages, reading and playing snooker. As I am a creative person, I try to express myself by painting (both oil and acrylics), dancing (I love salsa!), and singing and playing the piano/guitar. Of course, I also enjoy spending time with close friends and family, both in the USA and Austria.


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