Dual-degree program provides language and cultural immersion for students pursuing international business
Alex Goeldner '15 is diversifying her skill set by starting a social business and experiencing life in the United States.
Established in 2011, the international business dual-degree program offers students a unique opportunity to earn two business degrees in four years, one from Elon University and one from the ESB Business School at Reutlingen University in Germany or NEOMA Business School in France. Elon students take core classes at Elon and begin to learn the language of the country where they will be studying.
Then, beginning in their junior year, Elon students will start their studies at Reutlingen University or NEOMA Business School. Students are required to do a semester-long, full-time internship the spring of their junior year and will gain invaluable business experience in a multicultural environment.
Tom Tiemann, director of the dual degree program, said the program was developed to help business school students take advantage of study abroad opportunities that are more long-term.
“It’s going to be really hard to not deal internationally in a career,” Tiemann said.
Alex Goeldner '15 is currently enrolled in the dual-degree program and studying international business with a marketing focus. The German native is currently completing an internship at Eppendorf in New York and said she is looking forward to opportunities she will have to grow professionally and personally during her time at Elon.
Goeldner is the third person to be featured in a series of profiles about students enrolled in the dual-degree program and their experiences studying international business.
She answered questions recently from the Love School of Business about her experiences.
How did you learn about Elon’s dual-degree program?
The first time that I heard about a dual-degree program was on the internet, while looking at different German colleges. I saw that Reutlingen University (my German university) offered the dual-degree program with several different countries, one of them being the United States. Within the U.S., Reutlingen had four different partner universities at the time. I chose Elon as the university I wanted to attend for my last two years of college.
Why were you interested in studying in the United States?
The biggest reason I wanted to study in the U.S. was because of a previous stay in the U.S. During high school I spent my junior year abroad at a high school in Michigan. I lived with a host family and got a taste of what living in the U.S. was like. The family I stayed with became like my second home during that year and still is. Because the stay with them was such a great experience I decided to study in the German-American dual-degree program.
What do you hope to gain from the dual-degree program?
The dual-degree program is a great experience to truly dive into a different culture by living and studying in a foreign country for two full years. In addition, you gain work experience in two countries, since it is required to do a five-month internship in Germany and the U.S. This being said, I believe that the dual-degree program is just a great learning experience, as you become fluent in a second language, learn about another culture’s working environment and college life, and have a full year of work experience by the time you graduate college. Over the past year, I have learned a lot more about U.S. culture, as well as many things about myself.
What professional skills have you developed since entering the program?
I have improved my presentation skills, both in German and in English. I also learned what it takes to work in teams that consist of people from many different cultures and how to lead such a team effectively. Furthermore, the dual-degree program has equipped me with theoretical knowledge necessary for a professional career. The internships have been great to gain practical experience and to learn firsthand about the way a company is structured and how daily operations work.
I have also acquired a lot of professional skills through a social business called H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Eat) that some friends at Elon and I have started. It has been a very cool experience to see how supportive Elon University, its professors and staff have been along the way – and has been a great way for me to apply the knowledge that I have acquired through the dual-degree program. I learned what is necessary to build a business from the ground up and how to deal with some of the difficulties along the way. I also experienced how important it is to make connections with people in the business world and how to do marketing with limited financial means.
What are your career goals and plans for the future?
I hope to work in marketing, preferably in the consumer goods sector. Since I have had the chance to look into many different business areas in both of my internships there is a possibility that I would apply for a job in a different area other than marketing, e.g. business development. One of the important factors for deciding on a career will definitely be to have a job that I can truly enjoy and have a passion for. Who knows, maybe this even means starting my own business at some point!