He was born in Aschaffenburg, moved to Malta at the age of two and returned to Germany after his bachelor’s degree. As a newly graduated alumnus, Pascal Aloisio looks back on his studies and his path to Landau. Here, he has completed his bilingual Master’s degree in environmental sciences. In our interview, he also reveals what he is doing in his current position at the State Institute for the Environment Baden-Württemberg.
You work at the Baden-Württemberg State Institute for the Environment: How did you get the job?
At the time, I received an e-mail from the student council’s mailing list, containing the job offer. That was shortly after I had finished my master’s degree. I applied right away and was invited for an interview. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I had imagined, so I thought nothing would come of it. Some time later I received a written rejection – and then, a few days after that, an e-mail in addition to that. I wondered: is this double rejection necessary? Luckily for me, they were actually writing to tell me there was a part-time offer for the position I had applied for, and that’s how I got my job.
What tasks do you perform?
Mainly the administration, analysis and interpretation of data. We like to talk of “the famous three Bs” that make us what we are. First, observation (Beobachten): We usually commission the collection of data and then receive information from cartographers, for example. We also have our own monitoring stations for air quality. We need the data to be able to put out recommendations and to create databases. When the press or citizens make inquiries, it allows us to provide information. The second point is evaluation (Bewerten): We analyze and review the data. I am currently analyzing data on avian wind turbine kills. We stay in constant touch with both the people who find the bodies and the veterinary investigation office. The veterinary office will perform autopsies on the birds to clarify whether their death was really caused by a collision with a turbine. We had a fraud attempt the other day: in the body of a supposed turbine kill, shotgun pellets were found. The third B stands for counseling (Beratung): We don’t make decisions by ourselves, we merely advise authorities. We make proposals for the designation of a bird sanctuary, for example. The Ministry for the Environment then decides the matter on the basis of our selection. The last two points, i.e. assessment and advice, are my area of work.
What does your typical workday currently look like?
I’m working from home at the moment. To analyze data, I only need my laptop with GIS and Excel software. I communicate via e-mail – with colleagues and with the people who report the aforementioned kills. Working from home is quite pleasant for me. I live in Landau, so staying at home avoids two hours of commuting every day. I do miss my colleagues, though. When I was at the office the other day, I ran into a co-worker and I realized: Wow, it’s been ages since we met.
When you began your studies, did you already know what you wanted to do later?
I had a rough idea – it should be in the field of nature conservation and related to birds. Further details, such as whether I’d work for a government agency or an NGO, weren’t too important to me.
What was your dream job?
When I was a child, I wanted to become a pilot.
After a bachelor’s degree at the University of Malta, you decided to do your masters at the University of Koblenz-Landau. How did that come about?
A lecturer in Malta sent us students a collection of links with interesting offers for a master’s program. Among them were the universities of Frankfurt and Landau. In Frankfurt, the entire program would have been in German. In Landau, the Master in Environmental Sciences was bilingual, which suited me perfectly. Cheaper rents also contributed to my choice of Landau.
How did you find your bilingual program?
I thought it was really good. All things technically relevant where covered and it was also well presented by the lecturers.
What did you think of the offer for the Internationals?
I was very happy at the campus. In particular the welcoming ceremony was great. You really felt at home. The Welcome Center and the International Office do a very good job. I’m still very much in touch with the other exchange students. As a matter of fact, they’re all saying the same thing: they miss Landau. The people here are just so nice.
What role do your studies play for your work at LUBW?
The elective module on nature conservation during my master’s course and my internship in the second semester helped me a lot. I did my internship back in Malta with Birdlife, a local NGO, which is comparable to NABU in Germany.
You were a member of the student group Campus Grün. How did you get involved?
Actually I wanted to join them during my first semester, but at that time I was somewhat overwhelmed with all the things on offer. I remember standing in a crowded atrium, hardly knowing anyone. Later, I joined the green party Die Grünen, and there someone asked me: “Hey Pascal, wouldn’t you like to join Campus Grün?” During the first session I thought, “The amount of positive energy here is just incredible! I really need to join.” So I did, and I also had myself put on the list for the StuPa (student’s parliament). It was an interesting time which helped to shape me.
How do you keep in touch with the university today?
I still feel very close to the university. I’m still an active member of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). We organize events for the students and I have a lot of contact with former internationals, privately.
What did you learn during your studies aside from what is in the textbooks?
My time as a StuPa member has influenced me a lot. You learn to really listen and to check yourself: could the other person actually be right? This kind of work creates acceptance for other opinions.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
The best advice also comes from my time at StuPa: listen to all sides before you decide.
What was your best experience at the University of Koblenz-Landau?
I held a presentation at an international evening entitled My life in Malta. I got a lot of positive feedback; it was a nice evening.
Generalist or specialist – what should students of your subject bear in mind when choosing their major fields of study?
Both! The important thing is to specialize, yet not to focus too much on one single topic. Otherwise you will miss opportunities later on because you aren’t qualified or lack interest.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in your professional sector?
Keep your eyes and ears open for everything.
Interview: Thomas Marwitz
The interview was produced in friendly cooperation with the Alumni Department of the University of Koblenz-Landau.