As the Class of 2022 prepares for Commencement, May 6–7, The College Today will highlight how some of our graduating seniors spent their time at CofC, and what the future holds.
After graduation, Harrison Todd, a German and international business double major, is moving to Greenville, South Carolina, for a job with BMW. Working at BMW covers everything Todd wants in a career, and he got this role through focus and taking advantage of opportunities.
Todd developed a passion for German after four years of studying the language in high school. He applied to the College of Charleston because of its strong German program and was hooked when he visited during accepted student weekend.
“Dr. Morgan Koerner is part of the reason why I came to the College,” says the Honors College student about the chair of the Department of German and Russian Studies. “He shared how the German program would take my language to the next level. I also met Professor Lancie Affonso ’96 of the Honors College, who demonstrated an amazing passion for teaching and concern for students.”
During his freshman year, Todd took two 300 level German-business courses, which are held exclusively in German. Because of his strong language skills, he was able to study abroad in Berlin the second semester of his sophomore year. His trip, however, was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel fortunate that I got to spend three months in Berlin before I had to return home to Atlanta,” says Todd. “At least I got to connect with students and my amazing host family. Many of my classmates didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad at all. Plus, I experienced something few others did — being abroad during a pandemic outbreak.”
Todd finished his Berlin semester online at home only to continue with CofC online.
“COVID led to many things becoming scrambled,” says Todd, whose entire junior year was online and then his senior year was back on campus. “The pandemic sped up the process of being in college. We really didn’t get to take advantage of the full CofC experience; we had to take advantage of what we could. I’m just grateful to my professors for being flexible and engaged throughout it all.”
As an international business major, Todd regularly contacted Mercedes Benz Vans about internships. He applied for some technology-related internships and his perseverance was finally rewarded in August 2021 with a two-semester internship at Mercedes in the human resources department.
In September 2021, Todd received an email from Koerner encouraging him to apply for the BMW PACE (Professional Accelerated Cross-functional Experience) program, noting that he would be a prime candidate. Todd submitted his resume and was quickly contacted regarding the interview process. By the time the actual interview came around, Todd had just started his final international capstone course with Oscar Jerome Stewart, assistant professor of management.
“Dr. Stewart is a great professor who really helped students open their mindsets,” says Todd, who used some of Stewart’s key phrases during his 4.5-hour interview with BMW.
“Dr. Stewart had commented that tradeoffs are a sign of a lack of managerial creativity — that accepting them is on par with admitting defeat,” he explains. “I shared that and a couple of other ideas with the BMW team, and I know that really caught their attention along with my German proficiency and my internship with Mercedes. They liked that I had manufacturing experience.”
Soon after the interview in January, Todd received an offer to join the PACE program this July. During the two-year program, he will rotate every eight months through different departments based on individual skill sets and will have a mentor and supervisor every step of the way. He hopes to get roles where he will use his German and capitalize on his interest in technology.
“It’s clear that BMW invests in its people,” says Todd. “I’m just happy to be part of the company’s CofC footprint.”