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Hamburg to the Graduate Attributes Programme: Merlin's story

30 Aug 2022

By Merlin Jago Marwitz – Student Intern from Hamburg, Germany with the UCC Graduate Attributes Programme

Merlin Marwitz travelled to Cork in July 2022 with the Hamburg to Cork Social Mobility Project and joined the GAP team as an intern as we finalised the Your UCC Graduate Attributes and Values Compass platform ahead of launch on Tuesday 20th September 2022. 

As I am currently in the second year of my apprenticeship as a ‘Kaufmann fuer Bueromanagment’ or ‘administrator’ in English. I decided that now, of all the times, would be the perfect time to work abroad in Ireland via the Hamburg to Cork Mobility Project – and how right I was.

Working with the UCC Graduate Attributes Programme (GAP)

When I heard that I would be working in Cork, I was thrilled. When I realised that I would be working at UCC I had the completely normal and rational reaction of ‘oh my God why did I apply for this, why did they think that this was the right position for me’. 

As it turned out, I was working in the best place possible. The commute took only five minutes, and the work wasn’t nearly as stressful as I imagined it to be. What more could you want? A great team of colleagues! The GAP team aren’t a typical work group that only interact when necessary; they welcomed me with open arms and embody the values of respect, compassion and integrity

During my time at GAP, I worked on the Your UCC Graduate Attributes and Values Compass - launching in September 2022. Your Compass is a self-assessment and learning tool which helps students to identify and develop their graduate attributes and values, aiding both their personal and professional development. Initially when I started to work on Your Compass, I approached the work methodically, answering the questions and noting my observations from a user perspective. However, as I became immersed in Your Compass, I began to reflect inwards and curiosity grew about my own persona, attributes and values. When I finished the Your Compass learning experiences, I took the time to reflect on the overall experience and how I may apply my newly identified attributes and values in the future. I tried to come up with a single result of completing Your Compass, but it was impossible as it will differ for every person. The benefits of Your Compass include discovering yourself, your attributes and values, and how you may apply these to become the best version of yourself both personally and professionally.

UCC Pride event

My graduate attributes and values

My time with GAP allowed me to delve into self-discovery and realise the attributes and values which are most important to me. 

The value that I find most important is respect. It is an often-misunderstood value, as the majority will say ‘of course I’m respectful, there is rarely a situation where I’m not’ but the value of respect is applicable to many more areas of life than we realise. It is about having respect for yourself, for others, and for our environment. My time working in Cork taught me the importance of respecting and believing in myself – made easier by the encouragement of the GAP team. Self-respect is vital for both personal and professional wellbeing; believing in yourself will open you up to a world of opportunity. 

Out of all the Your Compass learning experiences, respect was my favourite; it was developed by the UCC Bystander Intervention Programme, which aims to teach participants how to safely intervene and support victims of sexual violence and harassment. The programme was adapted to provide a well-rounded learning experience encompassing respecting race, religion, ability, sexuality and more. 

The attribute that I find most important is being an independent and creative thinker. The development of this attribute allows one to develop both personally and professionally; it can be applied in a variety of ways such as formulating projects, ideas, reassessing older bodies of work, or even coming up with excuses for why you didn’t do your homework (we have all been there!). 

In my opinion, creativity is the art of making something out of nothing. The creation of a story or an idea which is unique and intriguing is something that I learned from a good friend of mine, Natalie M. We would go from time to time into an art gallery or a museum, where she would ask me what I saw or how the people in the painting are feeling, which helped me to develop my creative thinking and interpretative skills. Natalie also embodies the graduate attribute of ‘creator, evaluator and communicator of knowledge’, as she is always able to explain the history of the art, while making it easy to understand and enjoyable to listen to.

Over many years, creative writing has allowed me to develop my ‘independent and creative thinker’ attribute. I enjoyed joining online servers where I would create problems for others to solve. This led me to think outside of the box, and to try to anticipate the actions and interpretations of others. The exercise was dynamic, as I could plan to a certain extent, and then I would need to think and adapt. 

Farewell, for now!

Now that I will soon be returning to Germany, I am wondering what I will miss the most; I’ve had so many wonderful experiences here in Cork. My message is simple, if you have the chance to work or study abroad then do it! I can tell you right now that you will not regret the experience and that it is an invaluable opportunity for personal and professional growth, and to develop your graduate attributes and values! It is worth the time and effort, even if you must wait two years in order to travel, like in my case! Amazing opportunities can arise when you are least expecting them, you just might get a call informing you that you have been chosen to go somewhere great, like Ireland! 

Hamburg to Cork dinner celebration

I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to Wendy Swaby of the German Mobility ProjectAdel Coleman Manager of the Graduate Attributes Programme, my mentors, peers, colleagues, and the wider UCC and Cork community. 

Go raibh maith agat und noch eine Schoene Studienzeit hier an der UCC. 

Thank you (Irish) and have a great time studying at UCC (German)

Graduate Attributes Programme

5, Brighton Villas, (First Floor) Western Road, University College Cork, T12 EC95