Three College of Charleston alumni recently shared some valuable career advice with some 230 high school students from around the Palmetto State as part of Lowcountry German Day.
Now in its third year, the annual event hosted by the Department of German and Russian Studies and Mercedes-Benz Vans (MBV) on Oct. 6, 2017, was intended to impress upon the high school students that studying German at the College can truly open doors, said German professor and department chair Morgan Koerner, who also organized the event.
“Specifically, they made the case for thinking differently about preparing for one’s career by combining study in a business or STEM field with proficiency in German, and that’s a lot of what this day is about, ”Koerner said.
Blair Healey ’16 (pictured above, at left), who works for MBV in logistics, spent a year interning with the company as a senior at the College majoring in supply chain management.
“Having German on my resume definitely played a role in moving my application to the top of the stack,” Healey said. “It was important that I could walk into the office in the morning as an intern and chat with my manager in German. I got a job offer even before I graduated, and started working at MBV two weeks after I got my diploma.”
“The German department here is the best in the state,” Healey told the audience. “They really do a great job of teaching the language, helping you develop your language skills and getting you to study abroad. The professors are also well connected with the many German companies that do business in South Carolina and this region.”
And Gordon Thames ’17 (pictured above, at right), who majored in political science and minored in German, concurred. As an intern in MBV’s purchasing department, he says it was his high proficiency in German (documented on his resume) that helped him secure the internship. Though he never anticipated working in purchasing, he now loves it.
“This has been fascinating for me,” said Thames. “Studying political science, I did have some training in negotiating when I participated in the Model UN, but now I’m developing those skills in commercial negotiations with large-scale suppliers. I’m learning so much every day and I think I’ll stay in purchasing the rest of my career.”
Koerner hopes the high school students came away from the event with a better understanding of how studying German can lead to internships and jobs.
“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity that German companies offer here in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast,” he said. “I hope it will encourage them to prepare better for that workforce by thinking ahead of the curve.”
Feature photo: From left to right, CofC alumni Blair Healey ’16 and Gordon Thames ’17, both employees of Mercedes-Benz Vans (MBV), participated in a panel discussion as part of Lowcountry German Day. Ramona Montjoy ’96, (not pictured) who works in IT with MBV, was also part of the panel. Photo by Reese Moore.