Doctor Michael Richter started his doctoral career with a decision to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Bremen’s Research Centre for Eastern Europe. As he himself says, it was a continuation of his path so far. Before, he obtained international education at numerous prestigious universities – UCL in London and HSE in Moscow, as well as at the College of Europe in Natolin. In his research, Doctor Richter focuses on the intersection of political economy and international relations, with an emphasis on Eastern Europe. Dr. Richter has published in a number of journals. He is most proud, he says, of his publication in Global Policy, which provided a clear and practical framework for reconstruction efforts after the start of the war in Ukraine.
Global challenges. A study of anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine
“This international orientation is not just a reflection of my personal heritage but also a commitment to addressing global challenges through a cooperative and comprehensive approach” – says Doctor Richter.
At the center of his research is the analysis of anti-corruption reforms, especially within the Ukrainian context. He notes that this area of research provides an insight to broader governance and policy challenges in post-Soviet states. This vast context, in turn, translates to deeper understanding of struggles and success of democratic transition and economic reform.
Additionally, Doctor Richter examines implications of these regional dynamics for European integration and transatlantic relations.
“By focusing on these intersections, my aim is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Eastern Europe” – he says.
Both academically informed and practically relevant
Solutions which are “both academically informed and practically relevant” are key in Doctor Richter’s work.
He notes how in his work on anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine, he uses the knowledge he got from spending some time in the area:
“It reflects a deep understanding of the geopolitical nuances of Eastern Europe, gained through my extensive studies and research in the region. My approach to academic inquiry is characterized by a blend of theoretical rigor and practical relevance, always aiming to translate academic insights into practical policy recommendations”.
But an international career brings not only a deeper understanding of the problems, but also obstacles.
Challenges in an international career
Doctor Richter emphasizes several challenges he faces in his international career.
One is the fact that each country has its very own cultural and political environment. Moreover, bureaucratic requirements and administrative obligations differ from one country to the next.
The next challenge is also connected to the legal paperwork – visas and work permits. As Doctor Richter notices – it is vital to plan ahead and inform oneself of all the requirements. A good solution is seeking help from colleagues or local experts.
Another hurdle is the infamous language barrier. Firstly, even after obtaining fluency in a foreign language it can still be challenging to work in it. Secondly, knowing the language of the country is important to ensure good communication with colleagues.
Maintaining a work-life balance can also prove challenging. “Especially when dealing with time zone differences and frequent travel” – says Doctor Richter. Staying in a healthy routine and focusing not only on work but also on well-being and personal activities is key here.
Dr. Richter also talks about the need to build a professional network:
“Building and maintaining international professional networks is a crucial aspect of my career, given its focus on international relations and policy analysis. My approach to networking is multifaceted, involving a blend of strategic relationship-building, active engagement in academic and professional communities, and leveraging digital platforms”.
He frequently participates in conferences and seminars. They are an opportunity to meet other scientists and engage in meaningful conversation, he notes.
Moreover, Doctor Richter uses not only the offline but also the online to stay connected and contribute to the academic profession. By publishing articles in journals, writing op-eds for popular media and using digital platforms like LinkedIn, he contributes to the academic world online.
Future plans and a word of advice
Doctor Richter’s plans for the future are straightforward – he wants to keep on expanding his international career:
“Specifically, I aim to maintain a function that bridges the gaps between politics and economics, science and practice, as well as Western and Eastern Europe”.
He notes that there are many places where his work could be used. Think tanks, application-oriented research institutions and European institutions are just some of them.
Doctor Richter doesn’t have a specific organization in his mind though:
“More important than the specific employer is the application of my skills towards a higher objective” – he explains.
And for those just starting their international careers, Dr. Richter has some advice – accept the differences, learn the local language and make contacts. And also:
“Lastly, remember that an international academic career is a journey of continuous learning. Stay curious, keep updating your skills and knowledge, and remain open to new ideas and approaches”.