Students Experience Summer Internships at Volkswagen

Volkswagen Story Kacton (male)and Kalissa (female)In the summer of 2015, Kacton DeVoti and Kalissa Ervin, majors in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, were the first two students with German language skills to take advantage of the opportunity for paid summer internships at Volkswagen Chattanooga (VWC). Both students learned about the opportunity in a summer internship recruitment event held on campus by Volkswagen and were subsequently offered internships for the summer of 2015.

The Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures has a longstanding concentration in Language and World Business (LWB) under their major, but this is the first time internships have been available at VWC. Lisa Parker, assistant director of LWB, collaborated with the German program faculty, Stefanie Ohnesorg and Dan Magilow among others, began cultivating relationships with VWC last year. Their goal was to develop opportunities for their students of German language and culture to gain practical experience and the professional emphasis to be competitive in an ever increasing and challenging global market. They were delighted when VWC agreed to offer internships.

Kacton remembers the interview for the summer internship was conducted in English and German by a panel of managers and described it as a “daunting” and “grueling” experience. Happily, he was offered an internship position on the IT & Services team in General Purchasing at VWC. Once hired, he was given significant responsibility—including a chance to give a presentation in German to the board and Chief Financial Officer.

Working in a setting where about 65 percent of his coworkers spoke German, Kacton learned about everyday use of the German language, particularly terms applicable to the corporate setting.

“Most importantly, I learned a lot about what it means to be on a team and how to conduct business with others,” he said. “This internship was an amazing opportunity, in which I was able to use much of my German skill, knowledge of German society, and general business skills to further my experience in a practical setting.”

The summer internship has already paid off for Kalissa Ervin who has graduated from UT and is employed in a regular full-time position as Commodity Associate in Purchasing at VWC.

Kacton is currently continuing with his coursework at UT and is hoping to have an opportunity to complete a second internship at VWC or maybe at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany before he graduates.

Looking to the future, he sees these internships as a pathway into a regular job after graduation and hopes VCW management shares his view.