This October, the German department held its inaugural Careers for Students of German event. Four department alumni — Brianna Felten, Joel Stark, Erich Bergmann, and Jennifer Kim ­— spoke to current students about how having a German major played a role in their lives and current careers. 

Representing a span of graduation dates from 2009 to 2017, our panelists also represented diverse areas of employment. Ranging from the airline industry to investment firms like GE Capital, presenters discussed how German helped them succeed in their respective careers. 

Kim, who works in the airline industry, shared how she noticed her job interviewer was German during her interview. She is convinced that once she started to speak German to him, the connection formed via that exchange was what gave her the advantage over other candidates and landed her the job. She also spoke of how German comes into play during customer interactions in her daily tasks — a fact that has distinguished her from her colleagues professionally.

Felten, who works for a global relocation company in Troy, Michigan, noted that speaking and understanding German is a necessity for a company located in a region populated by companies with German ties, which often relocate employees to the area.

For all panelists, there was resounding consensus about the rewarding experience they had in the department. In particular, studying abroad left a favorable and indelible mark on their ideas, attitudes, and overall evolution as young adults.  

Whether as a serendipitous occurrence or as a daily necessity for success in their jobs, the stories told gave concrete examples of how the German language benefited their careers, helped to give them a competitive edge, and enriched their lives. Current students can take these stories to heart in the knowledge that German as a course of study can be useful professionally in diverse and interdisciplinary fields. 

Interested in viewing the panel event to learn more about career options? See