Working Abroad in Germany with Jill Peterson '14
There have been situations where I needed to assert myself as a woman in the working world and in the world of higher education. I am forever grateful for having learned how to be assertive. Being a Simmons student means being a Simmons woman for life.
Jill Peterson ’14 is an Onboarding Specialist at Zeitgold in Berlin, Germany. After working for nearly two years on mobile ad campaigns at Glispa, a mobile advertising technology firm in Berlin, she knew something was missing. The work was “super interesting and fast-paced,” says Peterson, “but I wanted to help 'real people' and make a more tangible impact. At Zeitgold, my daily work enables, educates, and empowers small business owners to take control of their finances.”
Her current role is challenging, but in a different way than her previous work. The Onboarding Department is responsible for transforming small business owners into long-term product users.
“Because our platform enables cooperation between these small business owners and 'fitting' tax advisors, the work involved in this transformation is extensive,” she says. “Daily tasks include teaching new merchants how to use our tools on their digital devices and facilitating in-depth discussions to understand our merchants’ tax- and payroll-related needs. We do all we can to ensure each merchant’s smooth transition from traditional tax advisory to our modern, AI-based technology.”
In her first job after completing her Master’s degree from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, she worked with colleagues from over 45 countries, and with business partners from the U.S., India, China, Canada, and Russia, among others.
“Now at Zeitgold, I only speak in German, with a customer-base constantly forcing me to push my linguistic limits," explains Peterson. "The work itself is challenging, and I am always learning new information about the German tax system.”
During her time at Simmons, Peterson did a 10-month internship at Education First, where she was often exposed to people visiting the U.S. to learn English. This gave her experience an “international flair,” though at that time she was working in her native language. During her Master’s program, she focused on data analytics during a 4-month research position at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“The research I did there was very interesting and as stimulating as what I do now,” she says. “It was about delivering a high-quality, evidence-based thesis to my university and business stakeholders with limited time and resources.”
Although her work experience in the States differs dramatically with her current role, Simmons prepared her in vital ways for her career.
“Simmons gave me the confidence to pursue my goals as a young professional woman," Peterson explains. "Going for a Master’s degree in Business Intelligence and Process Management in Berlin was not an easy feat. Data science is still a male-dominated field, but my four years at Simmons gave me the business knowledge, critical-thinking skills and strength to push through difficult situations.”
She notes her time on the Simmons Crew team also contributed to this self-confidence. “There have been situations where I needed to assert myself as a woman in the working world and in the world of higher education. I am forever grateful for having learned how to be assertive. Being a Simmons student means being a Simmons woman for life.”
Peterson highly recommends a course of study in the School of Business for Simmons students. “This program will give you a taste of all functions needed to run a successful business and will make you an informed participant in today's consumerist society. The case studies and research projects will prepare you for the working world.”
Peterson minored in finance due to her interest in working with business data, but she was also tempted by business law and project management. “Business management is a great major for creatives who know they want to work in the world of business but aren't yet sure of how exactly they want to contribute.”
And Peterson has a number of favorite courses: “'Introductory Statistics' showed me the world of data analytics by teaching me how to read, understand and draw conclusions from real-world datasets. 'Strategy' taught me to keep the mission of my work in mind and work in a way that supports this goal. In my current position, it’s vital for me to remember Zeitgold’s ultimate mission: to make running a small business intuitive. This helps me develop novel processes and solutions with intention.”
Last but not least, she valued all that she learned about leadership and managing change. “This was undoubtedly the most important concept for my life post-Simmons," she says. "Every job involves working with other people and has some business structure, and processes are always changing. In the business world, leading others and managing stakeholders during change is crucial to conceive, implement, and successfully adopt new processes.”
Peterson’s advice for Simmons students? “Have patience, love yourself unconditionally, and keep pushing forward. We don’t always achieve what we want in the way or at the time we’d hoped, but every stepping stone along the way is a part of the big picture. Work hard, have faith, and always keep your head held high!”