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Crossing the Finish Line
Christina Hering is 25 years old and one of Germany’s top runners, discipline: 800 meters. Since 2012, the multi-champion is a member of the German national team. After her participation in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Tokyo was her next big event. Unfortunately, due to Corona, it has since been postponed to 2021. A few weeks ago, Christina Hering successfully completed her Master in Management at the TUM School of Management. In an interview, she told us how she managed to combine world-class athletics with her studies, what she particularly enjoyed about her Master’s and how she is planning to continue her athletic and professional career.
Christina, congratulations on the successful completion of your Master’s in Management – a great achievement! The first question, a classic: world-class sports and studying at the same time – is that possible? How did you manage both?
In the past couple of years, there have been times where I wished I could have been just an athlete or just a student so that I could have concentrated fully on just one of the two. For me, some of the exams coincided with important competitions. Sometimes, it was not a matter of time to manage both, but rather a matter of focus: With quite a lot on your mind already, it is hard to concentrate on studies at the same time.
Over the years, I have acquired good time management skills and learned how important personal commitment is. Of course, it takes discipline, too, to sit down to study after an exhausting practice. It was positive and helpful that many of the lectures in the master program were digitalized, so that I was often able to watch them from home and abroad.
Has TUM School of Management supported you in any other way?
Fortunately, the TUM School of Management helped me with the mandatory international experience. With a tight training schedule, there was little opportunity for me to do a two-month internship abroad. But because of sports, I spend a lot of time abroad, anyways. TUM School of Management (as TUM is a partner university of top-class sport) allowed me to credit this as “unusual” international experience, because the focus is on international experience and intercultural competence.
Against the advice of many, I had decided to write my Master thesis this past semester, even though this would have coincided exactly with preparing for the Olympic Games. With the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021, it has now worked out perfectly and I am in the fortunate situation that I have now completed my master’s degree and can fully concentrate on the sport for 2021.
Why was the decision for a Master’s degree important and right for you despite the double burden?
I think it was the right decision for two reasons. First, after the Bachelor’s, everyone has to decide for themselves, whether they want to keep studying, or whether they are ready to start their professional life. I personally wanted to continue my education. Secondly, I must honestly say that, although it is not easy to study alongside playing a high-performance sport, it is certainly easier than working alongside it. Studying definitely gives you more flexibility.
I think, as an athlete, it is very important to invest in education, because success in sports is naturally limited to a certain age. With two degrees completed, I can now devote the next two years to sport with a clear conscience and focus on the goals of Tokyo 2021 and the European Championships in Munich 2022.
Why did you choose the Master in Management at TUM?
First of all, I wanted to stay in Munich for my master studies. Since I can imagine myself working in the field of personnel development, the Master in Management at the TUM School of Management was a good fit. I was able to expand my knowledge from the bachelor’s degree in sports science with business and management skills and choose exciting topics such as entrepreneurship or psychology.
I also find it very contemporary that the Master in Management is offered completely in English, which allowed me to study together with people from various countries. I think that’s great! I remember a working group with six fellow students, each from a different country. All in all, I enjoyed the seminars I attended very much. Because of the small groups, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and to get to know my fellow students.
Corona has turned many things upside down this year. The Olympics have also been postponed to 2021. What does that mean for you?
Relatively quickly, it became clear that the Olympics could not take place as planned. This was a difficult phase at first, because I have been looking forward to this goal and have been working towards it for the last few years. I am in top form and I really wanted to perform. Without having a concrete goal to work towards to, it is a lot more difficult to remain motivated.
Nevertheless, I have been enjoying the time at home. My stress level has dropped significantly in the past few months. After almost ten years of competitive sports, however, the sport has become part of me and I have been able to maintain my routine despite the freedom and lack of a fixed training plan. It was nice to see that I do not participate in the sport just because it’s my job to, but because I really enjoy it!
It is now quite a long training phase until the Olympic Games. However, because I am already qualified, I think I will be able keep my motivation and anticipation up until then! For the next two years, I want to concentrate on the sport. Additionally, during this time, I would like to do some internships to find out where exactly I want to go in my professional career after sports.
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