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Interview with Natalja Eisenblätter

From when until when did you work at the OEI?

I worked at the OEI as a foreign language secretary from March 1991 to July 2018.

In which department/chair did you start working?
For the first six years, I worked in the Department of Economics. Then at the chair of Prof. Segbers and the last years at the chair of Prof. Sundhaussen and Prof. Witte.

What were the main activities in the beginning?
My tasks as a half-time employee consisted of translations of technical articles into Russian, interpreting at meetings with visitors from Russia, and taking care of them.

Have the main tasks changed over time? Which tasks have disappeared and which have been added?
In the course of the first six years, the structure of the OEI has changed significantly. If at the beginning of my work in the Department of Economics there were three professors, three scientific assistants (full-time, permanent) and two full-time and three half-time secretaries, at the end I was still there as the only foreign language secretary. In 1998, I moved to the chair of Prof. Segbers, who was then appointed at the OEI. The tasks at this chair were very diverse: a lot of communication with different research institutions and media, support of the chair holder in preparing his business trips in Germany and especially abroad (Russia), supervision of students. Here I worked as a full-time employee, as it could not be managed otherwise.

From 2004 I was responsible for two chairs with my full-time employment. My tasks included supporting the chair holders in research and teaching, supervising students, and all organizational and budgetary, administrative tasks (which were gradually added).

What equipment did you work with?
The translations into Russian were done with a typewriter with a Russian keyboard. Until gradually the PC's were so far that one had a keyboard with Kyrilica. On the one hand, the use of PCs made things easier, on the other hand, one took on a lot of additional tasks that required additional expertise.
Fortunately, at the FU there was always the possibility to attend various training courses to be able to handle new PC applications or administrative and housekeeping tasks that were transferred to the secretariats.

How many secretaries were employed at the OEI?
I don't know.

Did you and your colleagues work full-time or part-time? Were you additional earners?
During my time as a half-time employee, I had a part-time job.

Were there any opportunities for further training at that time, and if so, what were they?
See above.

Were many secretaries overqualified, e.g. as translators?
As far as I know, almost all secretaries were overqualified, i.e. they had a university degree.

How was the cooperation with colleagues/supervisors?
The cooperation with the colleagues was pleasant, with a lot of understanding among each other. With some superiors, it was not unproblematic, but in the end, a solution was always found.

What did you like about your work at the OEI and what did you not like so much?
It was interesting to observe how major historical upheavals in Eastern Europe, especially in Russia, were reflected in teaching and research at the OEI. One has had the opportunity to experience interesting lectures/discussions/people live. Especially at the chair of Prof. Witte I discovered a lot of new things for me from contemporary (and not only) Russian literature and films. Also, interacting with students was just fun.

Is there anything you would like to pass on to today's secretaries?
I would like to give today's secretaries something to take with them: Participate in the discussion about the profession of a university secretary in our so rapidly changing times, as this is the only way, even if laborious, to achieve financial recognition.

You can read a brief overview of the development of secretarial work, not only at the OEI, as well as interesting facts from everyday work here.