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12/15/2019
First Encounters Student Contest Entries Due

Member Accolades

Profiles: Matt Hayes
Name Matt Hayes
College Pennsylvania State University
Degree B.S. Supply Chain & Information Systems, B.S. German
Current job title Travel & Expense Category Manager
Employer BHP
Location Brisbane, Australia

Why did you first start learning German?
It actually all started when I was a young kid. I travelled to Germany in 2000 with a youth choir and was fascinated by the language and culture. Ever since then, I was determined to learn German. I’ve always had a knack for languages; in high school I studied French. Once I got to university, however, I switched to German since my university had an established German language program with world-renowned staff.

What did you get out of your German studies?
Where do I begin? I think the first and foremost benefit to my studies of German had to be an immediate link to the culture and history. Learning German isn’t just about the language; it’s about understanding how the language fits in to its history and present. It’s why certain phrases and sayings aren’t easily translatable to English - and this aspect I always found fascinating. Another aspect that I got out of my German studies was the opportunity to study and work abroad in Germany. This was, hands down, the best six months of my life. It allowed me to stay in a home stay where my host spoke zero English, and forced me to get better at the language. That semester also allowed me to take classes at the world renowned Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, as well as undertake an internship in my course of study - which ultimately helped me land a great job out of university.

What influence did German have on your career choices?
It wouldn’t be until 2014 where I was able to use my study and get a full time contract position for 6 months in Hannover, working in my field. Before then, it was always a nice to have.

How do you use German today at home or in your work?
From my studies and life experiences to date, I still keep in regular contact with several friends who live in Germany. I’m able to speak it at a relatively good level on a bi-weekly basis. I make sure to incorporate German in to my day-to-day life so I don’t lose it!


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