USI’s International Summer University at the University of Applied Sciences in Osnabrück, Germany, completed its eighth year in the summer of 2019. With the program’s continuing success, and with the relationships built between USI and officials in both Evansville and its sister city in Germany, students were offered a longer-term experience that included both studies and an internship.
The Osnabrück Internship Semester in Spring 2020 came about as a result of the April 2019 Wunderbar Together: The Year of German-American Friendship event hosted at USI. “Our purpose was to share how the German model of dual education combines practical training with curriculum to prepare students for the job market,” explains Dr. Daria Sevastianova, Associate Professor of Economics, Center for Economics Education Director and Study Abroad Coordinator. “We looked at how we can increase engagement with the business community to better prepare students and provide better job and internship possibilities.”
Early in the Spring 2020 Semester, Katie Kuester ’20, marketing, and Brice Miller ’20, business administration, secured internships through the program. Kuester’s internship was in the Marketing Department of Avermann, a German mechanical engineering company, while taking online classes at USI. Miller’s internship was through the Osnabrück Chamber of Commerce. He credits the Wunderbar Together event where he had the opportunity to network with Chamber CEO Marco Graf and Professor Kay Hoffman, International Director of Osnabrück.
Just weeks after arriving, the two Romain College students watched as the pandemic caused universities to move classes online, businesses around the world to begin closing and travel restrictions to be implemented. They had to make some hard decisions—quickly.
After much discussion with family and friends, USI officials and each other—and no way of knowing what the world would look like in the coming weeks and months—they were highly encouraged to return to the United States. However, both chose to stay in Osnabrück and fulfill the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they had earned. Miller knew it was his last semester to be part of the program, plus there was the financial investment to consider. Similarly, Kuester said, “I worked so hard to get into the program and to find my internship. I didn’t want it to be over within a month of getting there, so I made the decision to stay.”
Kuester spent her time bolstering Avermann’s new Instagram account with creative social media posts. She also translated their marketing materials, data sheets and presentations into English. Of her time spent in quarantine, she said, “I had made a lot of friends there that made the quarantine not so bad. It was only for about a month, then I was able to get out and go to other cities in Germany.”
Miller worked in the Economics, Marketing and International Department at the Chamber during his regularly scheduled hours. He said he felt lucky to stay in the office the whole time. “Having a normal schedule kept me sane,” he said adding a laugh. He described going to work pre-pandemic as “packed,” but during the quarantine he saw few people. Miller’s duties included answering questions and conducting extensive research to find resources for those wanting to do business in the United States. He takes pride that his compilation is still posted on their website as a resource tool. The Chamber’s political affiliations helped keep him in the loop on what was happening with travel and other restrictions in Europe. “I also used this information to update fellow international students about changes to travel, mask and group size regulations,” he said.
The International Summer University study abroad program will continue, and Miller “100%” encourages students to go. Both students say their study and work abroad experiences, along with the friendships they have made with people from all over the world, have shaped their plans for the future in ways they could not have imagined. “You can only experience it for yourself, and everyone can benefit,” said Kuester. “Since being abroad I have changed my viewpoint on a lot of things.”
Miller’s long-term goal is “working and traveling for a business that has German-American ties, and to be the person who bridges that gap.” Kuester, while finishing her last semester at USI, is brushing up on her German language skills so she can apply to German graduate schools.
Nicky Zou, Brice Miller, Derek Beauchamp, Sandra Markovic, Katie Kuester and Prof. Dr. Kay Hendrik Hofmann. The other students are from the University of Florida, and Hofmann is a professor for international business at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences.
Mr. Güngördü, international affairs; Brice Miller; Mr. Hesse, Director of economics, marketing, and international; Mr. Graf, CEO of Chamber; and Mr. Ettrich, project manager.