General Manager, Automotive Manufacturing and Engineering Supply Firm

Alan Garner

 

General Manager

SLW Automotive Inc., Sallisaw, Oklahoma

 

 

Education and Qualifications

 

BSc in Modern languages – University of Salford, UK

 

ACA – Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (equivalent of CPA in US)

 

System Assessor,  Euopean Foundation for Quality Management – Steinbeis-Transferzentrum Qualitaet und Umwelt, Ulm

 

Describe a typical day in your job

As General Manager of an Oklahoma and Michigan based engineering and manufacturing business owned by a Chinese company with customers and suppliers in the US and Europe, no two days are the same. SLW is leading supplier of pumping systems to the global automotive industry. In layman’s terms we design and manufacture engine oil pumps ,transmission system pumps, transfer case pumps, vacuum pumps etc.

 

In very basic terms in a manufacturing company we do four things.

 

  • Understand the market
  • Design a product
  • Make the product
  • Sell the product – hopefully for more than it cost you to design and make it.

 

As we have a strong focus on developing highly engineered products we must constantly keep abreast of technology developments in the markets we serve. This means not only reading about these developments but also getting out into and visiting these markets – feet on the street. This ongoing research must then be digested in a way that enables us to develop our product  and market strategy. Developing this strategy naturally involves considerable interaction with and directing of our engineering and sales groups to ensure that we are focusing our resources on the most attractive business opportunities. It also involves travelling extensively to get a hands on feel for the markets and our customers’ expectations.

 

Of course it is not enough to develop great sales strategies and products if you can’t make them properly. When it comes down to it our job is all about giving the customers what they want when they want it. Consequently much of a typical day is involved working with our materials, production and quality management groups to ensure that everything is running smoothly. These groups have to ensure that materials and components from suppliers are here on time, our production equipment is running and appropriate manpower available and of course that transport has been organized to get the finished product to our customers on time.

 

A business like ours also requires a solid support structure. Functions like Finance, IT, HR all have to be on the top of their game to enable the core business to be successful. Any General Manager worth his salt makes it his or her job to be actively involved in supporting and directing these functions so this automatically involves me in dealing with banks and financial institutions, handling employee issues,  communicating with and informing the workforce of important events or matters, and the list goes on.

 

Being owned by a private Chinese company adds the spice to the daily recipe of events. We are very fortunate to have an owner that trusts us to run the company in a professional manner and we are very much left to “do our own thing”. Nonetheless, there is a need to maintain continuous and effective communication to ensure our direction is aligned with the Chinese vision. These exchanges are often challenging from a language point of view but we get through them. One thing one learns from travel and studying languages is to show patience and respect people who are trying to communicate in a language that is not their mother tongue.

 

 

How do you use German?

German became part of my professional tool kit from the day I qualified as a Certified Accountant and moved to the London, UK based International Audit Department of a large US corporation.

 

My very first assignment was strangely enough in a small town called Markdorf near the Bodensee in southern Germany. I say strangely enough because it is there that I met my wife and  6 years later I would end up working at that same location initially as Finance Controller and subsequently as Plant Manager and  a variety of senior roles that would keep me based there for 20 years. 20 years married to a German and living in a rural area by the Bodensee give you plenty of time to use German.

 

Before that though and during my time in the International Audit Department I had the opportunity to travel widely around the world working for varying periods in Europe, North and South America,  China, SE Asia, Australia, South Africa. However, because of my language knowledge  the focus of my activities centered around Germany and my assignments took me to all corners of the country as well as to Switzerland and Austria.

 

Two years ago, an unusual opportunity brought me to the US from Germany. This in itself is not such an unusual move but my opportunity involved me, a British citizen, and my German wife  moving from Germany to work for a Chinese owned company in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Believe it or not, this move has not resulted in my language knowledge becoming redundant. The markets of the world have become very global these days and being a supplier of engineered products to the automotive industry automatically means developing contacts and working with the German vehicle manufacturers. Consequently visits to Audi, VW, BMW, Opel etc form part of my “job description” and there is no doubt that being able to speak to customers in their language gives discussions and negotiations a completely different angle.

 

Mastering a second language is without doubt a very useful skill in the modern day, but I believe  the advantages go beyond being able to communicate with German speaking nationals. To learn a language properly you must immerse yourself in the culture and customs of the people and this exercise opens up new perspectives of the world. Things increasingly cease being right or wrong or good or bad but rather one becomes aware that often they are simply different. One learns to adapt to new situations. One learns patience and to respect others.  My father always said that travel is the most valuable education you can have. Forty years after he first said this to me I can certainly agree with this belief and there is no doubt that learning a foreign language  opened  numerous doors to make this broader educational path available to me.

 

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

Probably the biggest disadvantage associated with my job is the fact that I am far away from my family and friends in Europe. When living in Germany it was always easy enough to get back to my family in the UK. Living in Fort Smith, Arkansas makes this somewhat more difficult. That’s about it, though, when it comes to the disadvantages.

 

Obviously there are days at work when you wish you could have stayed at home. You have the occasional issues like a supplier problem, a customer delivery mix up, an employee causing trouble, the computer goes down and so it goes on. These are things you get used to though and with time one learns to handle them – and if you do a reasonable job you minimize the number of such unwanted events.

 

However, for me the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages .I enjoy being confronted with varying challenges be they of a strategic nature or day to day  technical, people related, commercial, or operational  issues.

 

Another piece of advice I was given when I was young was to surround yourself with intelligent, well travelled and well read people.  As General Manager of a business such as ours you do a lot of interacting with people of all academic backgrounds, holding all sorts of positions in their organizations  and from all walks of life. This is certainly one of the great advantages of my job

 

I have always enjoyed travel and my professional  career has given me numerous opportunities to see the world and meet people of every possible background. Being paid to do something you enjoy is not a bad deal!

 

On the other hand, if you’re more in to the 9 to 5 working rhythm, where the day is regulated and everything fits into an established routine then being a senior manager in industry is not for you. Similarly if you believe that the boundaries of the world end at the state line then you are probably not going to be a good fit. However, if you have an open mind, want to learn, need challenges and have a desire to enrich your life through exposure to different cultures then the global way in which business is done these days makes it very worthwhile to strive to achieve a senior management position.

 

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

For someone interested in pursuing a career in general management or generally in a leadership position in industry I think one of the most important things that one should realize is that business is now conducted on a global stage. Companies that don’t adapt to this environment are falling by the wayside and this trend will continue.

 

Consequently, successful companies are attaching  increased importance to having leaders that can work effectively in this new environment . So some of the basic advise I would give to anyone starting out on a career path towards senior managements are:

 

  • Obtain a recognized business qualification
  • Travel is a great education – if you get the chance to travel, use it.
  • Recognize that ideas or things that may seem strange are not necessarily better or worse or right or wrong, but just different
  • Develop a circle of friends and acquaintances that are intelligent,  well read and well travelled
  • Remain humble and tolerant
  • Learn a second or third language

 

 

Finally, remember that life should be fun and if you find that this career path isn’t right for you, get out while you are young enough and plot a new course.

 

Assistant Dean, Office of Admissions

Jeremy D. Dickerson

Assistant Dean

Office of Admissions

University of Arkansas

 

Education and Qualifications:

Doctoral Candidate, Higher Education, University of Arkansas

 

Certificate Candidate, Educational Statistics and Research Methods, University of Arkansas

 

M.Ed., Higher Education, University of Arkansas

 

B.A., German, Hendrix College

 

edu.de Fellow at Phillips-Universität in Marburg, Germany, sponsored by the Deutscher Adademischer Austausch Dienst

 

Congress-Bundestag Scholar at Gymnasium Bremervörde, Germany

 

Describe a typical day on your job.

Broadly speaking, my responsibilities include overseeing orientation, prospective student data acquisition, information technology services, admissions processing, and related inferential and descriptive statistics for the state’s flagship institution. Having said that, I take great pride in the fact that I rarely have a “typical day.” You may encounter a number of professionals who make this claim, but how many wake up at 6 a.m. only to learn that they need to be in St. Louis for a last-minute event at 3:00! On any given day, you may find me meeting with students, querying data, running statistical inquiries, presenting to several hundred prospective students, or driving to unforeseen adventures.

 

How do you use German?

I only use German directly on the rare occasion when an exchange student stops by the office. While working on my B.A., I was fortunate to have the flexibility to take beginning courses in French, Latin, Dutch, Old High German, Middle English, and American Sign Language. As I reflect on the skills I acquired in switching between and learning myriad language families, I believe that the required skillset is highly fungible. Once equipped to quickly learn a new language, one is able to adapt to changing conditions and to appreciate ambiguity. When I discuss my job duties with others, they are flummoxed when I mention that I have a German degree. But math, data, and computer programming all draw from artificial languages. Learning German and learning the basics of so many other languages positioned me well for assuming these responsibilities.

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

I must say that I am very fortunate to have a job that I love. Intermittent stress is not uncommon, but it does not bother me because I get to do something that brings me great satisfaction: namely, helping students gain entry and attend a world-class institution, one that is equipped to help them realize their dreams. I don’t see any disadvantage in that.

 

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

 

Most people will enter the profession as I did, as a recruiter. Because of long hours and travel, many do not stay in the field for long, so there are excellent career opportunities for those who persevere. A trap I see many recruiters fall into is believing that the recruitment process is mostly about them and their abilities to maintain relationships with individual students. I do not discount that part of the recruitment process, but those, who understand the tremendous efforts expended on administrative support, data management, marketing, and event planning (i.e., the big picture), are the ones who are poised to move up the ranks in enrollment management.

 

Academic Librarian (Cataloger)

Librarian

Academic Librarian (Cataloger)

Education and Qualifications

M.L.S., Kent State University

B.A., Political Science, Kent State University

Professional development workshops and coursework

Describe a typical day on your job.

Librarians at academic institutions, especially larger ones, tend to be very specialized. I’m a cataloger, which means I don’t have any responsibilities for reference, instruction, circulation, or interlibrary loan—the “public” face of most libraries. And even within cataloging, there is further specialization. My current areas are quality control for the online catalog and cataloging of music materials such as scores, CDs, and DVDs. That said, there’s a great deal of variation in my work, and on a given day I might be: tracking down and correcting errors in the database; listening to a CD so that I can identify the music on it and preparing a catalog entry; answering e-mail; attending meetings; conducting performance reviews for the staff I supervise; creating procedural manuals; reading professional books or articles; learning new software; working on a special project to digitize library materials; writing a report; attending a professional conference; performing service activities for campus committees or professional organizations; or conducting and writing research in my field. In a past position, I traveled to newspaper offices, historical societies, and libraries in my state to inventory and microfilm newspapers.

How do you use German?

The primary focus of our music collection is Western art music, for which German is an important language. So I find that I have to catalog a lot of scores or CDs in that language. That’s actually why I started learning German, because prior to that my language background was in Spanish and French. After having taken several literature courses, I gained the additional job responsibility of working with the faculty to select German language and literature materials for our library collection, and that’s a lot of fun. As needed, I also translate invoices, letters of inquiry, and other German correspondence received by the library. I can’t claim to be fluent, but I do use German frequently in my position.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

Working in higher education means that I’m around a lot of diverse and creative people, and there are always opportunities for learning. I really like that. In fact, the whole library profession is evolving rapidly right now, and while that can be a challenge, it’s a great stimulus for developing new knowledge and skills. It’s also exciting to work with a host of different library materials and make them readily accessible to our users (or at least that’s the goal). Because there are so many specialties within the profession, there’s a great deal of choice about the type of work you can do and the setting (academic institution, public library, school, law library, business, etc.).

Academic librarians often have faculty rank and are expected to earn tenure and promotion. This in turn requires research, publication, and professional service. While I enjoy this aspect of my job, it could be considered an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your own inclinations. The daily schedule of academic librarians is somewhat inflexible, as many are on 12-month contracts and are generally expected to be in the office 40 or more hours a week; each institutional culture determines whether research is done entirely on your own time or not.

Although there are exceptions, librarians tend to be some of the lowest-paid professionals. And contrary to popular myth, we don’t get to read (for pleasure) on the job—a real temptation when surrounded by all those books!

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

Most professional librarian positions require a master’s degree from an institution accredited by the American Library Association (or foreign equivalent). This is normally considered a terminal degree, although some academic libraries require an additional subject master’s for promotion and/or tenure. (A Ph.D. is generally needed to teach in a school of library and information science.) However, most academic backgrounds are useful for librarians, so you don’t have to have prior preparation in a given area to be accepted into a master’s program. When selecting a school, make certain it offers classes in your area of interest. For instance, some graduate programs today offer little or no cataloging instruction. If you don’t have any actual work experience in a library setting, it’s a great idea to complete an internship as part of your professional education.

Good writing and communication skills are essential for work in an academic library, and knowledge of at least one foreign language is a very common job requirement for cataloging positions. Currently, our profession is very much driven by the constant changes in information technology, so if you don’t like technology, you might not be happy in the field.

Academic Research Scientist

MatthewWhitley
Matthew Whitley
Academic Research Scientist

Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department of Structural Biology
University of Pittsburgh

Education and Qualifications:

Ph.D., Biochemistry (Molecular & Cellular Biophysics Option), 2010
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

B.S., Chemistry (Biophysical Option), 2004
B.A., German, 2004
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Study Abroad, Karl-Franzens-Universität, Graz, Austria, 2002-2003
Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung, Goethe-Institut, 2004

Describe a typical day on your job.

There is no one typical day. The morning usually starts with performing experiments at the lab bench, followed by data analysis by hand or using the computer. The day usually concludes with data interpretation as the experiments are completed and planning for the next day’s work. Scattered throughout are my efforts to keep up with the latest scientific literature from major research centers all over the world and correspondence with research collaborators and other coworkers.

How do you use German?

Modern science is truly a global endeavor. While it is remains generally true that the United States leads the way in the high-tech science and engineering fields, the gap has decreased noticeably in recent decades. Germany is without doubt a modern scientific powerhouse, with many well-respected academic and governmental research facilities such as the renowned Max Planck Institutes and the Helmholtz Society research centers. I have used my German skills to read scientific and technical web pages and journal articles, and I have communicated with colleagues by email in German. I attended a scientific conference in Beijing, China, and was able to use my German skills to communicate with scientists hailing from several different European countries. In general, my knowledge of German grants me access to people, materials, knowledge, and expertise that would not be as readily available to me were I restricted solely to English-language sources.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

The biggest advantage of my job is that I am contributing to the acquisition of new knowledge relevant to challenging biomedical problems and questions. I routinely use cutting-edge scientific instruments and am responsible for the entire content of a project including experimental design, data acquisition and processing, and data interpretation. This gives me a large amount of control over what I work on and how I go about it. Because science has truly become a worldwide enterprise, I get to interact with fellow researchers from all over the world.
The disadvantage of a career as an academic research scientist is the extremely long period of education and intense work required for such a career (a minimum of 4 years as an undergraduate, 5-6 years as a graduate student, and 4-5 years as a postdoctoral research fellow before one is fully qualified to lead one’s own lab). Salary and benefits are low for graduate students and postdocs (compared to colleagues in private business and industry who have a similar or even lesser amount of education). Because of these drawbacks, a person should only pursue such a career if he or she can view the pursuit of new and useful knowledge as its own reward.

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

Science is no longer done in isolation, and scientists who know only English have limited themselves right from the start to a small fraction of the total body of available knowledge and expertise. Because of the rich history of scientific inquiry in Germany and Austria, German is a fantastic language to know if you plan to enter any scientific or technical field. What’s more, being able to communicate in a foreign language is fun!

Automotive Engineering Intern

NathanMiles

Nathan Miles

BMW AG, Forschungs- und Innovationszentrum (FIZ)

Dept. of Component Operational Strength Testing

Education and qualifications

  • A.S. in Computer Aided Design, Engineering Graphics
  • 3 years of experience as a 3D-Designer (mechanical) at an R&D firm
  • Only one class left until my Bachelors in International Economics is finished
  • 1 year of high school German.  3 years of college German.  Zertifikat Deutsch B1
  • A lifetime as an auto enthusiast!

Describe a typical day on the job.

On any given day, I could be doing one of many different functions for R&D.  Some days I will spend entirely behind my desk doing statistical analysis.  Others, I will not even come into the office, but will instead spend the whole day in our testing bays or at a partner company’s facilities.  At times, I will be responsible for organizing the work of several technicians, and others, I will be the only one performing a test.   In any given week, I probably spend 40% of my time planning, 10% doing, and 40% analyzing.  As an intern, I am also expected to learn the theory behind every testing project, so there is a lot of brief but thorough study that is squeezed in as well.

How do you use German?

I use German in literally every aspect of my job.  From the minute that I leave home in the morning, until I go home at the end of the day, every word is Deutsch.  Although most of the engineers in our office understand English, every day I must deal directly with the mechanics and technicians who work in our testing centers.  Many of them speak no English at all, and some of them speak it only poorly.   I am also usually the de-facto translator for tough English terms and technical expressions for my colleagues.

Outside of work, I try to use German as much as possible also.  In Munich, you can survive on English, but you can get things done much more effectively if you speak a little bit of the language. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

My job is very much like an apprenticeship, so I get tons of background info before starting anything.  The engineers that I work with are passionate about their job, and it really shows when they start explaining or demonstrating a concept.  The FIZ is the heart of BMW’s research and development, and I have the opportunity to use the very best tools, computer programs, and techniques available.    I also get to see the coolest processes in automotive development, up close and personal.  By the end of my 2nd month, I had gotten to watch a motorcycle crash test, be in the pits at the running of one of the McLaren F1 WBG cars, and help re-design a machine to test Formula 1 parts.

It is unfortunate that my internship is not paid just a little bit better.  Munich is an expensive town, and there is so much to see and do here.   Working for multiple engineers can be frustrating sometimes, although they try very hard not to spread me too thin.    Like any job, where your work has a direct impact on others, there is a certain amount of stress that nothing can completely take away.  Interns at BMW get lots of help at every step, but at the end of the day we are still responsible for our part of a project.  So the stress level is there.  You can sometimes replace the word “stress” with “excitement,” though, cause on a good day, that’s what it feels like instead.

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

Germany is the largest exporter in the world (That’s right!  In 2008 they topped China!), and the list of German-owned companies operating in the U.S. is huge.   I speak from prior experience when I say that the likelihood of having a German supplier or partner company, when working for a U.S. engineering firm is almost assured.  Even though they usually have English documentation, it is a major advantage for your company if you can read their original documents, or better yet… communicate directly with their engineers and technicians.   So the idea that you can only use your German training if you are actually working in Germany is utterly false.

In Germany,  it is also very common for engineers to be promoted into the role of manager, and there is an ever-increasing need for individuals with “soft-skills” and other traditionally management-related abilities.  As an engineering student, the more you are (or will be) exposed to international projects, the more you should consider adding management, economics, HR, logistics, or statistics to your studies.  I have already used my statistical background more times than I can count.

Project Engineer | Operations Management Associate

yunque

Yun Que

L’Oreal USA

Education and Qualifications:

B.S. Mechanical Engineering and German, cum laude, Washington University in St. Louis

Exchange program in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany

Internship with KHS AG in Dortmund, Germany

Fluent in German

Describe a typical day on your job.

I go to work … I leave work. That’s about all that remains constant on a daily basis! In manufacturing, every day presents new challenges, and a project engineer has their hand in a lot of different areas. One of my areas of responsibility includes safety and quality programs for my department, which produces Maybelline and L’Oreal mascaras for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Whether that means developing new procedures or training our production personnel, I help improve and implement processes and programs that keep our employees safe and our products world-class. Another area of responsibility is new product launches; a project engineer takes Marketing’s ideas and brings them to life. I work with various internal divisions and external suppliers to acquire the necessary resources and manage the project through to production.

How do you use German?

How does an engineer working for a French cosmetics company in the U.S. use German at work? Good question! L’Oreal has invested millions into its production facilities, and many of our equipment manufacturers are German companies. Germany is still renowned for its engineering and machinery, and we often look to our German vendors to supply us with industrial solutions. As most German professionals speak excellent English, my German skills are rarely used for translating. Rather, I use them mostly for building a strong relationship with suppliers who are vital to our business.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

The advantages of my job include working in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, working with great people, and having the opportunity to take my career as far as I want. Being an engineer, I have always been drawn to science and technology, yet I still wanted a career that involved interactions with people, not just machines. Being a project engineer has allowed me to exercise my technical expertise while building relationships with other people. I may not be curing cancer, but I still have the opportunity to positively impact the lives I touch daily. Plus, every day is different, and it’s pretty cool to go to the store and say “I made that!”

The disadvantage is the long hours involved. Our plant runs 24 hours a day and about 350 days a year, so it’s not unusual to work a lot of overtime. Now if I could only convince HR to pay me for all the hours I worked, not just the first 40 …

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

Engineering is such a broad field that there are a lot of options once you get your degree. But getting the degree is the crucial first step because you can’t be a practicing engineer without one.  Having strong math and science skills is important, but I think genuinely being interested in technology is the key as it pushes you to learn. Engineering school is tough. You can get a tutor if you’re weak in calculus, but no one can convince you to study for your fluid mechanics class if you just don’t care. And finally, don’t be fooled into thinking engineers don’t need strong communication skills … what good is a brilliant idea if you can’t explain it to others?

US Naval Officer

RisaSimon

Lieutenant Commander Risa Simon

United States Navy

Education and Qualifications:

A native of Miami, Florida, LCDR Simon earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors in Modern European Studies from Vanderbilt University in 1994 and a Master of Arts degree in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan in 1997.  LCDR Simon has conducted study abroad in the native languages of several overseas universities including The American University in Cairo, Egypt (1997); Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (1995); the University of Regensburg, Germany (1993); and the University of London (1992). She speaks German, Arabic, and Hebrew, and is currently studying Persian/Farsi.

LCDR Simon earned her commission from Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida in 1998, following which she reported to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE, Detachment Misawa, Japan where she qualified as a Naval Aviation Observer while providing in-flight support to deployed air crews.  LCDR Simon’s subsequent tours of duty include service with Naval Special Warfare Unit THREE in Manama, Bahrain from 2000 – 2003; US Southern Command Headquarters in Miami, FL from 2003 – 2006; and the Joint IED Defeat Organization in Baghdad, Iraq from 2006 – 2007.

LCDR Simon’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal (2), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

I’ve used my German in the following ways:
-Communicating with German (and even Polish) coalition forces .
Since 2001, we operate a lot with our European allies.
- Studying Middle Eastern history (for my MA) – you’d be surprised how
many important texts on the Middle East are written in German.
- Studying other languages – my background in German has been
instrumental to studying other languages, especially Persian/Farsi,
which surprisingly has a lot in common with German!
- Traveling through Europe and the world … I toured the Valley of
the Kings in Luxor Egypt with a 6’7″ German guy I met at Karnak
Temple!  I’ve buddied up with German divers during dive cruises in the
Similan Islands off of Thailand; the Great Barrier Reef; and the Red
Sea!  Not to mention how useful it’s been knowing German while
traveling through most of Europe.  I remember this one time helping
some German tourists in Spain communicate with the police … they
told me their story in German, I translated it to English for my
friend, who in turn translated the English into Spanish for the
Police!  How ’bout that for fun!

High School German Instructor

ShelleyLumpkin

Shelley Lumpkin

Education and qualifications

  • I graduated from Arkansas State University with a BSE in Social Studies.  At that time, German was not an available major or minor.  I took every German class available on campus, so I am certified in middle and secondary level social studies and secondary level German language.

Describe a typical day on your job.

  • My day begins with a zero hour AP/IB Psychology class followed by 2 sections of German 2, 1 section of German 3, and 2 sections of German 1.  This is the first year for German ab initio (an International Baccalaureate course), so those IB students are mixed into my regular German classes.
  • As a high school teacher, my job goes beyond what I learned in my language courses at the university.  On any given day I might be:
    • Teaching a grammar lesson.
    • Talking about the culture of a German-speaking country.
    • Working with students on a communicative task.
    • Practicing listening skill in the target language.
    • Grading papers.
    • Playing a game to support a lesson already learned (hopefully).
    • Having a German club meeting.
    • Counseling students about their grades and what they can do to boost them (turn in work J).
  • I might also be:
    • Counseling students about problems they may be having in their everyday lives.
    • Meeting with Special Education teachers about students who have IEPs.
    • Helping students who need glasses, shoes, groceries, etc. but can’t afford them- getting them in touch with organizations that can help.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

Advantages:

    • 1 on 1 with teenagers. Yes, this is an advantage–today’s teens have interesting perspectives on the world.  They are young enough to dream, but old enough to take care of business.  Responsible enough to be independent.
    • The hours.  I get to school at 7:45, teach until 1:40, leave school at 3:05.  I also have nearly 3 months off in the summer.
    • The pay.  I get a great salary for 9 ½ months work- and I also get paid during the summer.  My salary is spread over 12 months.
    • Insurance (health, vision, and dental), sick leave, time off- all great benefits.
    • I am essentially my own boss, as long as the school’s rules are obeyed.  My classroom is my own little world.  I’m the manager.

Disadvantages:

  • The stress.  Being in charge of 150 teenagers can be stressful.  You have to set boundaries and be consistent.
  • As with any job, office politics can be a bit distracting.
  • Grading papers.

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

  • Student teach/intern in education.  Non-traditional licensure is available, but I don’t recommend it.  Many of the non-traditional teachers really struggle with classroom management, grading, creating lessons and just knowing what to do in a classroom.
  • Listen to what your mentor has to say.  They have experienced everything you are going through and can help you deal with situations that may arise.

English as a Second Language Instructor

BriHook

Brianna Hook

English as a Second Language Instructor

Spring International Language Center, University of Arkansas

Education and Qualifications:

M.A., German Literature, University of Arkansas

B.A. German, International Relations, European Studies, University of Arkansas

Study abroad in Graz, Austria

Fulbright Commission English Language Assistant in Salzburg, Austria

Describe a typical day on your job.

First of all, while I’m not directly using German at my job currently, my experiences of learning a foreign language and integrating myself into a foreign culture have given me the skills necessary to teach English to international students. Because I know from first-hand experience the joys and frustrations of learning a foreign language, I understand better how languages work and what learners struggle with, and I can empathize with English learners’ difficulties! I teach a very diverse class of students from seven different countries, many of whom are striving to become fluent in English in order to study at an American university, others of whom are studying English for their career in their home countries or other reasons. A typical day for me includes lesson planning, grading papers or tests, and teaching interactive  lessons that help students improve their reading and vocabulary skills. At Spring International, we also do fun activities with the students to teach them about American culture- such as holiday parties, sporting events, bowling, ice skating, trips to retirement homes for the students to chat with senior citizens, and of course, plenty of meals!

How do you use German?

In fact, I frequently used German at my previous job; I taught English and German at a language center founded by a Christian organization that helped people in southern Thailand gain job skills after the tsunami devastated that area. I taught courses in hospitality English and German and had a blast doing it. Interestingly, I was also able to co-teach a Thai class to German tourists since I had picked up a considerable amount of Thai after my first five months there and could explain things to the students in German. In my current job, however, my knowledge of how languages work, rather than German specifically, helps me pinpoint what areas students struggle with as they learn English.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

There are so many advantages to my job! I get to meet fascinating people from so many different places and backgrounds, so I learn a lot about the world without even leaving northwest Arkansas. One of the most enjoyable aspects about this kind of teaching is that my students are especially motivated and eager to learn English because they can see how it is immediately applicable to their lives. I enjoy the cultural events they invite me to, and it is fun to teach them about my culture. It is amazing to see how students make giant leaps in their language ability in such a short amount of time. The only real disadvantage I can see about my job right now is that I’m working only part-time until I can go back to school to get my master’s in TESOL.

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

If you are learning a foreign language and might be interested in teaching (either English or a foreign language),look into programs to get certified as a teacher early on in your studies, because having to go back to school can be a little frustrating when you are ready to work in your field. If you want to be a language teacher, you need to have patience, a genuine love for people, good communication skills, and a sense of humor.

Study Abroad Coordinator

Laura Moix

Laura Moix

UA Faculty Led and Exchange Coordinator

Office of Study Abroad & International Exchange
University of Arkansas


Education and Qualifications:

M.A., German Literature University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

B.A., German/International Relations/European Studies, cum laude, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Study abroad experience with Univ. of Kansas summer institute in Holzkirchen, Germany

Fulbright Teaching Assistantship at Gymnasium am Kurfürstlichen Schloss, Mainz, Germany

Describe a typical day on your job.

I have the wonderful opportunity to have a position in the Office of Study Abroad at the UA, where everything is constantly changing from one day to the next, so you’re never bored.  Getting to send UA students oversees and receive incoming international exchange students means I see the full circle of excitement, self-awareness, and knowledge that comes from studying abroad.  I get to have a hand in a little of everything: from helping students join faculty overseas, to fixing up the website, to helping an international student figure out the ins-and-outs of Fayetteville and the UA.  Through my own experiences abroad, I know how important this journey is and it gives me a constant source of enthusiasm and strength to conquer whatever comes up in a given day.

How do you use German?

I use both my German skills and my knowledge of study abroad to help me in my job.  I love to speak German with my friends and have occasionally used it to help me assist exchange students from German-speaking countries who may have a little trouble articulating things from time to time.  I have also translated documents for students whose schools haven’t been able to submit things in English.

As a result of being able to use a second language, I’ve learned how to accept non-native speakers’ English and have been more open to listening to what they mean rather than focusing on what words/pronunciations they are using.  I consider this to be of immeasurable value in my current job.

Finally, and more broadly, I remember the highs and lows of culture shock, which I consider a universal language, and use those experiences to help support all the students I work with to the best of my ability.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

One advantage of my job is that I get to meet new people every day and help them achieve their own goals for studying abroad.  This is especially rewarding for me, because I remember how life-changing my own experiences in Germany were and I get to advocate for studying languages…I try to be impartial with students, but German will always be my first choice!

A challenge I face while doing my job is that it is never finished.  I am constantly trying to think of ways to improve our support resources, encourage students to learn abroad, and find funding for students.  Our office is fairly small, and we are all extremely busy trying to make sure everyone who needs our help gets it.  In order to do the best job I can, I’m often here late in the evenings and sometimes on weekends.  And, sadly, I don’t get summer vacation, unlike the students.

Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?

I would say you have to value what it is you are actually doing in a job in order to make it worth the stress and hard work count for something.  I could never be in this field if I didn’t fully believe that study abroad was a worthwhile and life-changing endeavor.  And I would not be qualified for my job nor would I have solidified this belief without prior knowledge of study abroad, and the fact that I know a second language is a huge asset and often a requirement for most study abroad jobs these days.

I know it’s a little corny, but here’s a quote that I find to be great advice, from Vincent Van Gogh: “Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”