Fearlessness of the Unknown

Minerva’s Daughters: Sylwia Falk works as secretary at the institute. 

November 30, 2023

Marketing and advertising was actually her thing, but then everything changed. Today, Sylwia Falk works as an assistant in a research department and therefore acts as an interface to many other areas within the institute.

Sylwia Falk has been working as a secretary in the Department of Organic Synthesis since 2017. She mainly assists Director Tobias Ritter in the administration of his team and serves as an interface to other departments in the institute. She also works in the HR department, where she is responsible for the job ticket, among other things.

What brought you here? Tell us about your way to the Kohlenforschung!
Sylwia Falk: Before I became a mother, I was working in marketing and advertising for various companies and projects. When I had to reorient myself, an acquaintance told me that there was a vacancy for a secretary here at the institute. I applied and got the job, which made me very happy.

What do you like about your work?
Sylwia: I like the variety and responsibility of my job. The trust placed in me is great and I often have the opportunity to coordinate and organize many tasks independently. This holds a lot of potential, but also often a lot of stress as I am quite "monkish" and good communication is also very important to me. I like the fact that I can make a difference here and that many colleagues are committed to the institute. Many people here are fun to work with.

What are your professional goals?
Sylwia: I don't have any fixed goals. Mostly, I want to go to work with a good feeling, with a smile. That means I want to feel like I'm achieving something and doing my job well. I also want to make an impact.

What has been your most difficult step so far?
Sylwia: In the past, I've worked for a few companies that have had to cut jobs or have gone bankrupt.  You could call that bad luck - but from today's perspective, perhaps it was also good luck. I always had to familiarize myself with companies, hierarchies, products and services from scratch. That was tough, of course. However, it also taught me how flexible I am and that I don't have to be afraid of change. As a result, I have developed a certain fearlessness of the unknown. No matter what comes: I will do my best and find a solution.

Who is your role model?
Sylwia: I don't have a role model in the traditional sense. But I generally admire people when they stand up for something and fight for it - for themselves or for society. Nevertheless, I wouldn't reduce that to one person. I would say that many people are a source of inspiration for me and I am constantly learning from them.

What advice would you give to young girls who are interested in working in a scientific institution?
Sylwia: If a young woman is interested in a particular job, then she should just do it and try it out. You have to try something to know whether you really like it. It's important not to "overthink" such decisions in advance. I think it is good to have a plan, but in the end, you should have the courage to try. You can always make corrections, and new possibilities that you did not plan before only might become apparent as a result. 

If you had one wish: What would it be?
Sylwia: I would like to turn one wish into twenty more wishes... but if it is something that I personally wish for, it is to lead a mostly happy and fulfilled life and to have the feeling at the end of my days that I have experienced a beautiful life with many special people and moments. Moreover, I wish the same for my daughter and everyone else, that they can live a beautiful life far away from wars, climate catastrophes, intolerance and other problems.

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