The Columns

From Virginia to Germany

— by on July 12th, 2015

“This opportunity was perfectly tailored to my interests. It paired my German studies with a practical and competitive work experience in financial services, all while giving me the opportunity to spend the summer in Europe.”

— Burke Ugarte ’17

Four students at Washington and Lee University’s Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics are participating in the U.S.-German Internship Program, run through AMCHAM Germany and BridgehouseLaw LLP.

The program helps American students secure business internships in Germany. Students work for three months, dramatically improving their German language skills and gaining a much better understanding of Germany’s economic and business role within the European Union.

“We are looking for students who do well in their German major or minor and also study one of the fields in the Williams School or the sciences,” said Paul Youngman, a professor of German at Washington and Lee.

Burke Ugarte ’17

Burke Ugarte didn’t decide to study German until he arrived at college.

“I was really married to the notion that I’d pick up a foreign language during my time at W&L,” said Burke. “I knew I wanted to study in the C-School, and Germany’s prominent role in global markets paired well with my interests.”

Through the AMCHAM program, Ugarte is interning with Ernst & Young in their Frankfurt office. He works in their U.S. tax division, on a team that provides compliance services to wealthy individuals with American assets, as well as to large American companies operating in Germany and vice versa.

“This opportunity was perfectly tailored to my interests. It paired my German studies with a practical and competitive work experience in financial services, all while giving me the opportunity to spend the summer in Europe,” said Ugarte.

Ugarte rents a room in the apartment of a theatre professor who lives in Bockenheim near Frankfurt. A typical day at the office finds Ugarte analyzing German financial statements, mapping out an account’s investment structure and determining filing obligations by looking at ownership percentages.

“I have always been interested in living abroad after W&L, and the AMCHAM program has shown me how feasible that is,” said Ugarte.

Polina Kyriushko ’17

As a citizen of the Ukraine and an economics major, Polina Kyriushko has long understood the importance of studying German language, literature and history.

“Germany is an important financial center and the strongest European economy. As such, it supports the integrity of the European Union,” said Kyriushko. “I knew if I knew German, I’d be able to read German news and better understand the political and economic situation in Europe.”

Kyriushko is spending her summer interning in Frankfurt, with DZ Bank’s strategy and control department. The department analyzes the performance of the bank’s various operating divisions and supports the strategic initiatives of the bank’s subsidiaries and management board.

Kyriushko has stayed busy analyzing financial statements, working on presentations for both internal and external clients and translating documents from German to English—a requirement now that DZ Bank is monitored by the European Central Bank.

“I was always interested in working in the finance industry in Germany, and my internship experience is proving that I’m making a good choice.”

Caroline Sandy ’17

Caroline SandyCaroline Sandy

Caroline Sandy began taking German as a first year student at Washington and Lee and enjoyed it so much she declared two majors—one in German and the other in economics.

“Pairing economics with a foreign language seemed really natural to me,” said Sandy. “And Germany is such a great place for economic history, with the Weimar Republic’s hyperinflation and West Germany’s post-war growth. This summer is a particularly interesting time for the European Union, and I’m beginning to see how economic events and new regulations are affecting priorities in large German banks like DZ Bank, where I’m working.”

Sandy is interning in Frankfurt, in DZ Bank’s financial control department. The department issues financial reports on behalf of the entire DZ Bank Group. Sandy is getting experience working in Visual Basics coding, Excel and various special access programs.

“My entire day is conducted in German, so I’m getting a really good mix of speaking socially and professionally. I’ve been introduced to a lot of new banking vocabulary that I needed to learn quickly if I was going to really understand my work.”

Alexis Tabb ’17

A childhood friendship inspired Alexis Tabb to study German in high school. By the time she arrived at Washington and Lee, she knew she wanted to minor in a foreign language.

Tabb, who is an accounting and business administration major and German minor, learned about the AMCHAM internship program when Youngman made an announcement about it in class. Now, she’s living in a studio apartment in Dornbusch—a suburb of Frankfurt—and interning with PricewaterhouseCoopers’ forensic accounting department, where she is the only native English speaker.

“Alex”

About the Program

The U.S.-German Internship Program is an option for students at Washington and Lee because of a partnership agreement between W&L and AMCHAM’s U.S. internship office. Students submit their application materials in the fall and learn whether they’ve been selected for the program by March. The students’ materials are posted to an online portal and German companies who participate in the exchange can opt to interview qualified candidates for summer openings. In 2015, W&L students enjoyed a 100 percent acceptance rate.

For more information about the U.S.-German Internship Program, please contact Professor Paul Youngman.