Senior Furthers Her Economics Education Spending Summer in Germany

Created: August 1, 2014
Last Updated: December 17, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (Aug. 1, 2014)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) senior economics major Valerie Dunlap has spent the summer in Germany as a finance intern at Kennametal, Inc., which is headquartered in her hometown.

“Born and raised not far from the Kennametal world headquarters in Latrobe, Pa., it is quite remarkable to see what a significant world presence a locally-based corporation has. I am not only getting practical experience, but have also been learning and growing personally,” she said.

Thanks to the W&J Magellan Project, Dunlap left for Germany on May 19. She will return home August 11.

Dunlap said it was Kennametal, Inc.’s long-standing tradition of excellence and close ties to her hometown that led her to pursue a summer internship with the firm.

“I knew that this was the right place to further develop my knowledge and skills in the areas of economics and German. After networking with personal contacts at the firm and submitting my resume, I was offered a phone interview with the CFO of Kennametal’s European Division and then another with the manager of general accounting of Kennametal Shared Services GmbH, located in Fürth, Germany. The second interview was conducted entirely in German, and it was after this interview that I was offered an internship in their various financial departments,” she added.

Dunlap has spent time working in each of the following three departments that handle Kennametal’s finances: general ledger, treasury, and planning and reporting. As a finance intern, she said she has gained a wealth of hands-on experience in a field in which she someday hopes to work. Together, she said, the internship experience has allowed her to explore various job opportunities in finance, while bringing together her studies as a major in both economics and German.

“Overall, this has been an amazing experience. Working with individuals from various European countries has taught me so much about different cultures and I would like to emphasize how well my W&J education has prepared me for this global experience,” she said.

Dunlap said it was not until her sophomore year at W&J when she “fell in love with economics.” Her connection to the German language and culture can be traced back to the early 1800s, when her great-great-great grandfather came to America and settled in Pennsylvania. This connection to her family heritage drove her to begin studying German in seventh grade, and soon after a deep interest in the language and culture developed, which continues today, she said.

“W&J has given me the ability to explore my interests in two very different disciplines, and it is through the Magellan Award that I hope to utilize, connect, and expand my knowledge of both economics and German by completing a finance internship and conducting independent research on German currency in Germany,” she said.

After graduation, Dunlap plans to attend graduate school, continuing her studies in economics. Tentatively, she would like to specialize in either public budgeting and finance or international finance.

“Independently researching the German economy while simultaneously gaining work experience at a world-renowned firm will provide me with invaluable knowledge for my upcoming graduate studies,” Dunlap said. “Additionally, coupled with W&J’s reputation of academic prestige, the successful completion of this Magellan-funded internship will punctuate my abilities as an independent thinker, as well as a determined and creative individual. Someday in the future, I also hope to have a career which allows me to travel to Germany for business. This internship with Kennametal is the perfect stepping stone that will help me to reach my future goals.”

A proprietary offering for W&J students, the College’s Magellan Project, established in 2008, provides scholarship funding for students to spend the summer months pursuing independent projects and internships that extend liberal arts learning outside the classroom.

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