Success Story Kim von Ciriacy

Kim von Ciriacy studied Journalism and Business Communications at campus Berlin and now works as a freelance journalist for WELT and Radio BLN.FM. We met her to tell us about her path to success:

There are many universities that offer good degrees in media studies. Why did you decide for the University of Applied Sciences Europe – then BiTS?

I took a one-year break from studying after graduating from high school and traveled the region. I was in Tunisia during the application period and I was only able to visualize each university online. The then online presence of the university caught my attention. In particular the practical nature. In the admissions test I had an interview with the Head of Journalism and Business Communication Thomas Becker who won me over with his enthusiasm for this program. This professor remained during and after my degree as a supportive and important contact.

After graduating from high school, studying instead of doing a traineeship can be advantageous in the job market. What were your reasons for choosing the Journalism and Business Communication (JBC) program? What were you expecting? Which content benefited you?

I have always been curious and had the urge to tell stories. And to that end, I wanted to try different paths, narrative forms, and media. If you don’t have a precise plan where you want to end up but rather cover the basics, then a diverse degree may be meaningful. In the JBC program I have had many opportunities to try different areas from marketing to investigative journalism.

There is always something going on at Campus Berlin, for example semester abroad, internships, and being involved in resorts. Which student experience has made a big impression on you?

I remember my semester abroad at London Metropolitan University very well. There I attended a documentary film course by the producer, director, and screenwriter Jesse Quinones. Before my time in London, documentary filmmaking was never on my radar as a possible future plan, and ended up in the course by chance. In the seminar we were all of course meant to make a documentary film. Until that point I had made a few YouTube videos for fun. That was all. In those days the dating network Tinder was relatively big and I decided to make a documentary on online dating and film my dates. Of course with the consent of all participants, which made the first date no less weird. A really amusing documentary was the result, with help from Jesse and my course. It’s called “Swiping Mr. Right” and I was able to show it at the British Urban Film Festival in London then and in Jena at the cellu l’art short film festival in 2018. It was also broadcast by WELT in four parts two years after production. That was the starting shot for my video production there.

Students have chosen a slogan: “Create your story. Inspire the world.” Which experiences from your degree supported you to carve out your very personal career path? What inspired you to go down this route?

It’s always people who inspire me. For instance Jesse Quinones in London, Thomas Becker, and Tim Thaler, who was also an instructor at Campus Berlin and I co-host a live show with him on his indie radio station BLN.FM. And also many friends who work in the media or in totally different sectors. I think when you simply do what you can’t let go and know and recognize your own qualities and those of others as well, then things can’t go drastically wrong.

You have been working for a WELT outlet even while you were a student and were also involved in the student magazine Terminal Y. How did you manage to get a foothold into this competitive industry? What about journalism do you find so thrilling?

Terminal Y is our student magazine, for which all JBC students produce contributions during their degree. As an alumnus unfortunately I am not really involved with it any longer. Matthias Giordano, the head of department at WELT kmpkt found me via my author page on Terminal Y and wrote to me using Xing. Kmpkt is a WELT department aimed at the youth audience. We are only present online. The journalism I can do there affords me a lot of freedom which I like. Since I’ve broadcast “Swiping Mr. Right” on WELT, we’ve started to focus more on video content. We are constantly trying to find new, exciting, and mobile-friendly narrative forms. We also create some formats that the users can interact with. We are not in a rigid structure and the work remains very exciting.

One of your focuses is presentation. You broadcast weekly with your former classmate Adrian Smiatek at the indie station BLN.FM and present a program together. Tell us what elements of making radio programs you find particularly exciting.

Adrian and I do a two-hour live show on BLN.FM every Wednesday evening. Tim Thaler, who heads the station, was an instructor at Campus Berlin and part of Terminal Y for some time. So it was the right set of circumstances. Adrian and I are actually totally different and probably wouldn’t have become friends were it not for BLN.FM. But that’s exactly what makes our show so much fun, and we have creatively named it “Bergfest”. “Bergfest” is an evening accompanying program. We play songs, have artists in the studio, talk about current topics from politics to Bachelor programs, and have established short formats. So we always taste a new beer that usually comes from Berlin, introduce our artists of the week, and give Netflix recommendations.

Give us an insight to your daily routine. How can we imagine your day and your professional life?

At the moment, I work as a freelance journalist for WELT about three days a week. I am either in the office, typing text, producing quiz, and conducting telephone interviews, or doing self-tests outside the editorial offices. For example I travel to Austria to shoot a segment on wolf researchers, spend a whole day with a dating coach, and shoot a scripted piece on pension at home. Wednesday evenings between 7 and 9 pm we are live on BLN.FM. Adrian and I agree on the topics usually on the day or the day before, and have a guest in studio now and then. Besides that I’m a freelance writer for a ticket exchange, since it can easily done from anywhere. Then there are a couple of projects close to my heart that I have already been working for some time. I want to set up a production company with a good friend of mine and music producers within the next three years. Until then we’ll be working together time and again on individual video and music projects. With my housemate I’m filming a documentary that we want to show in film festivals if it turns out well.

You’ve experienced a lot already but there’s a long life ahead of you. Where is that going to lead you? / What’s your dream? What would you like to have achieved in 10 years’ time?

I have no specific 10-year plan. I believe that would be rather restricting and because a change in direction would be considered as a failure in my view. Setting up my own production company is a realistic plan, and while we are going to work towards it, I will simply continue to do what I’ve been doing. I’m happy that I have the freedom to be able to transform ideas that are only in my head to begin with to the outside so that they become visible to others. I would like to keep developing in this field further.

What is your tip to the future and current students at the University of Applied Sciences Europe? How should they use their time at the university? What should they be aware of in their development and in entering their professional life?

If you’re aware of your environment and above all about yourself, then you’re on your way. If you’re positive, engaging, and open, you will meet exactly the same type of people with and from whom you will be able to learn. So look for classmates, friends, and professors who share your enthusiasm in something. Experiment a lot while you’re a student. You have a huge amount of freedom for which you will at least have to fight more for later. Never be afraid to make big plan and take it on the chin if you fall flat on your face. Or if you can’t be bothered about anything at times. In the end, your working life is exactly like life in general: You are responsible to make the best of it, whatever “the best” for you is.

Finally, describe your degree in three words!

Stimulating, practical, & formative

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