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The number of German majors at the College of Charleston has more than doubled in the last three years, and it’s now the second largest language major at CofC behind Spanish. Most are double majors with a School of Business program.

Why? Morgan Koerner, chair of German and Russian Studies, attributes it to the German-American Business Summit, with the third annual event taking place on Feb. 5, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Charleston Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston.

Students take part in the job and internship expo during the 2018 German-American Business Summit.

“The German-American Business Summit has been a boon for our job and internship pipelines for students and the College’s relationships with German industry in the region,” says Koerner. “And the spotlight shined on German industry’s preeminent role in the state has made students keenly aware of the added value of German language proficiency for job seekers.”

Indeed, more than 160 German companies directly employ 32,000-plus South Carolinians, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce. German industry has created more jobs per capita and invested more funds here than other any state in the country.

“The German-American Business summit has many opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to interact with industry,” says Gioconda Quesada, chair of the Department of Supply Chain and Information Management in the School of Business. “The benefits to the School of Business are exposure of our students to top companies, the job fair, the interaction with industry professionals and the creation of tighter relationships between academia and industry.”

Along with regular collaborator German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States, this year’s summit features two new partners – The Citadel and Trident Technical College. It also has a brand new host venue, the Charleston Gaillard Center, thanks to support from the German Embassy’s “Wunderbar Together” initiative, a year-long celebration of the German-American friendship. The Gaillard will allow the summit to accommodate many more students, which is expected to double from the 200 from last year.

Students and faculty talk with representatives from Mercedes-Benz at the 2018 summit.

“We are elated to welcome two new partners this year, The Citadel and Trident Technical College, who are helping organize the event and sending their students,” says Koerner. “The Citadel’s engineering students and Trident Tech’s industrial technology students are very attractive to German industry. In fact, there are groups of students coming down from the University of South Carolina, Clemson and Coastal Carolina, as well as high school students and STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] teachers from the Lowcountry.”

The conference kicks off with a two-hour job and internship expo from 11 p.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the keynote speech on leadership from Torsten Scheffler, senior manager at Mercedes-Benz U.S., two panel discussions and one presentation. The schedule is as follows:

  • 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. panel: “Leadership in Sustainability in German-American Industry,” a discussion about green initiatives in the German-American industry with experts from manufacturing and logistics.
  • 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. presentation: “Navigating and Understanding Tariffs: Updates for German-American Industry” by Sam Moses and Hector Ibarra from the law firm of Parker Poe.
  • 4:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. panel: “Futures of German-American Industry,” a discussion about economic development and the trajectories and needs of the German-American industry.

“We are very excited about the Sustainability panel, where representatives from Bosch, Kuehne-Nagel and the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness will talk about their company’s initiatives in the triple bottom line,” says Quesada, referring to a social, environmental and financial accounting. “The Department of Supply Chain and Information Management is always happy to collaborate with the German department and many others so that we can generate more opportunities like this one, so that our students have more diverse learning opportunities.”

Inspired by the German-American Business Summit, the School of Business will host the first Supply Chain and Analytics summit on April 5-6, 2019.

The German-American Business Summit will conclude with a reception at 6 p.m. hosted by Mercedes-Benz Vans. To register for the summit, visit german.cofc.edu.