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Burke Ugarte – American Chamber of Commerce Summer Internship in Germany

Name: Burke Ugarte

Class Year: 2017

Hometown: Columbia, SC

Major(s): Accounting, Business Administration

Minors or Concentrations: German

Opportunity and Year: AmCham US-German Internship Program, Summer 2015

Project Summary: The AmCham US-German program is a partnership between the American Chamber of Commerce and a host of German companies. After initial applicant screening, the Chamber of Commerce and its sponsors essentially operate as intermediaries as the remaining student applicants go through rounds of interviews with prospective firms. Ultimately, around 30 American students every year are chosen to complete three-month language and work intensive internships throughout Germany.

Personally, I am interning with Ernst & Young at their Frankfurt am Main office. Within the firm, I work specifically in the US Tax Department preparing returns and providing guidance and compliance for American companies operating in Germany, wealthy German individuals holding American assets, and vice versa.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? Elementary and Intermediate German were certainly great starts at readying me for a summer, let alone a job, in Germany. Spring Term in Berlin also served as an ideal transitional period for me to acclimate to the new culture before full immersion in Frankfurt. In my experience, I have found that German firms offer limited to no formal training, and they expect me to approach every situation and task differently and to reason through each problem. I have found that my bosses want to help me learn, but even more, they want me to teach myself and to learn on my own as much as possible. I believe W&L fosters a tradition of independent thinking through our liberal arts curriculum that has soundly prepared me for such a work environment.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I saw the twofold opportunity to polish my German language ability and gain practical work experience in an entirely new environment. The chance to spend a summer in Europe was pretty compelling as well.

Post-graduation Plans: After W&L, I hope to have a job doing something I am passionate about and something I believe I can excel in, possibly even abroad. Right now, my interests lie in finance, and that is where I see myself accomplishing those aims.  I would also like to be a farmer someday.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? The experience has allowed me to work in a large corporate environment and explore my interests in financial services at a global firm. More important to me is the chance to immerse myself in a new culture and language. I believe the ability to communicate across borders is invaluable, and language fluency is an indispensable asset across all industries. Ultimately, this summer abroad will allow me to grow as a person with broadened cultural and professional understandings that are applicable to any goal.

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Williams Investment Society
  • The Spectator
  • Phi Delta Theta

Off-campus Experience:

  • Spring Term Abroad:  Layered Berlin (2015)
  • Trans-US road trip (2014)

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