On Thursday, 19 November, American Space Leipzig invited former American studies student, Ralph Cibis, to talk about his career in the startup scene.
Around 25 guests joined to learn about his journey and discuss the role of American studies on his professional path.
In his talk, Ralph addressed a common challenge for students of American studies. Many have a hard time to pin down their plans after graduating. Ralph explained that he did not see this as a challenge but as an opportunity. The crucial aspect he appreciated from his studies was not the specific knowledge about culture, literature, or history, but the technical know how that comes with it. American studies teaches students to think critically, identify and solve problems, and to see the bigger picture; key skills for educated, confident individuals that are attractive to the job market.
Ralph’s biography proves his point. After he graduated, he took a one-year internship in Manhattan as an IT Help Desk Manager, without much professional knowledge about the IT sector. In this year, he learned how to produce program code and gained a lot of experience in the computer world. When he returned to Germany, he decided to combine both of his interests. He started his “Computing in the Humanities” MSc in Bamberg and got interested in the small but flourishing startup scene in Franconia. Ralph joined regular startup meetings and roundtables and was quickly offered a position as Project Manager at Favendo.
With him on the team the company quickly grew from a small startup to a company with around 70 employees. Favendo recently joined the German Accelerator Program providing them an office in New York City. The company is gradually outgrowing its status as a startup and has established itself as a serious actor in the IT business.
Ralph Cibis showed that in American studies it is not always just about the specific knowledge taught in the courses but about identifying challenges as opportunities. Most importantly, students should always reach out as well as formulate and discuss their ideas with others. His motto for the presentation was “Start small, think big, and aim somewhere in between.”