My reflection on being a Max Weber Fellow

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Julija Sardelić, Max Weber Fellow (2014-2016), postdoctoral Fellow, University of Liverpool

I was a Max Weber Fellow (2014-2016) at the European University institute (EUI) approximately a year ago. Since then I have moved to my current position as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool. At the University of Liverpool, I am pursuing a research project on the impact of the 2015/16 Refugee Crisis on the politics of diversity and marginalized minorities in the Western Balkans as well as European Union. Yet my current career path, as well many of my future research plans, were to a large extent shaped by my reflections up in Fiesole hills and particularly by dialogues I had with colleagues and friends during my time as a Max Weber Fellow at the EUI.

I came to the EUI after I had been a Research Fellow on an ERC-funded research project, CITSEE (Europeanisation of Citizenship in the Successor States of the Former Yugoslavia) University of Edinburgh. During my time as a CITSEE Research Fellow I was working as part of a great research team and still finishing my PhD in Sociology at the University of Ljubljana. The Max Weber Fellowship was then my first postdoctoral position and the point when I started developing my individual research on forced migration and marginalized minorities. During this time, I acquired a lot of new ‘equipment’ that prepared me for a future in academia. I most definitely will not remember all that I got from the Max Weber Programme, the EUI and my life in the Tuscan hills above Florence, still I would like to name a few things. The Max Weber Programme was firstly and foremost about amazing people, both from the Max Weber team as well as from other Fellows, and not to mention the amazing guidance from my mentor and also other people from the wider EUI community.

I remember how scared I was the first time I was filmed during my Max Weber September presentation, and then even more so when I looked at the YouTube video. Yet, this has proven to be an extremely useful exercise, especially because of the watchful eyes of the Max Weber academic skills team. I did not know at the time that I would soon be teaching my first full course and I was very mindful about the advice I was given. And nor did I know how much I would later use the knowledge I got from the workshop on course design. At the Max Weber Programme I organized my first workshop by myself, not knowing I would soon be co-organizing symposiums and conferences as well.

All this has been a wild ride many times, but most certainly worth it.

One thing that I found particularly useful were the presentation of the funding opportunities out there for future research projects. I ended up applying for a Marie Curie Fellowship. The information I received from two workshops on funding opportunities (one with the representatives of the funding bodies and the other one with a Marie Curie Fellow) were invaluable. This was then followed by many informal, but also very useful conversations about the Marie Curie Fellowship. Many of former Marie Curie Fellows (who were also former Max Weber Fellows) shared their experiences with me. I spent three summer months during my time as a Max Weber Fellow writing the Marie Curie Fellowship application. After I finished my application, it was crucial that I got extensive comments from two successful Marie Curie Fellows, for which I will always be grateful to them. Six months after applying for the Marie Curie Fellowship I found out that the project was chosen for funding. I will start my Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Leuven in September 2017.  In addition, just before that, I was offered two other postdoctoral posts, the one I have accepted in Liverpool and one other that I had to decline.

I think the Max Weber Fellowship did give me a lot of new knowledge (as well as wisdom) on how international academia works. It gave me new skills and, as I have described, equipment that I am still using today. Yet there is something more I got from the Max Weber Programme and my time at the EUI as well as the Tuscan Hills above Florence. This is that

I was able to meet so many wonderful individuals, who were my colleagues and remain my friends up until the present day. Some of them are still at the EUI, most of them have left. But I am still in contact with them wherever they may be around this world. From California to Singapore, I just know I am always welcome at their doors. As they are at mine. This is I believe a special added value of the Max Weber Programme, which I will always cherish.