A PEAK business project leverages language skills, highlighting value of multicultural education

William Buggert '24 in Germany

Throughout their college experience, students at Concordia must complete two Pivotal Experiences in Applied Knowledge (PEAKs). These experiences come in a variety of opportunities, including projects through Concordia Language Villages (CLV).

The projects are co-designed by the student and CLV to give them practical applications that also strengthen their language skills. The flexibility of this means that the projects are as unique as the students themselves, as can be seen by last year’s group of CLV PEAK students who put on a mini-language village session during the Celebration of Student Scholarship in 2023.

William Buggert is a 2024 Concordia graduate who combined language skills with other majors on one of these projects to complete an interdisciplinary PEAK through the department of world languages and cultures. He triple majored in German, political science, and international business with a minor in international affairs.

William Buggert 

The project combined his German and business majors as he worked to overhaul and restructure CLV’s supply chain and business management systems. It appealed to Buggert because it went well with his other courses during the semester. He said that his previous studies and work in economics and business complement his German reflections course, an internship in Germany, and study abroad experience in Hannover.

“I’ve used more of my language education than anything else I have ever learned combined,” Buggert said. 

This PEAK allowed Buggert to apply his knowledge from his various experiences at Concordia with KEB Antriebstechnik in Germany and at the U.S. Shakopee branch. Through his past work, he learned how to navigate the cultural nuances that often come into play with cross-cultural negotiations.

Although Buggert completed the PEAK to graduate, he said his main goal was taking this as a new experience with an opportunity to do something different. It allowed him to round out his internship and study abroad experiences from multiple different views of the business world.

He said that working on the business side of a program like CLV differs from many other business realms, contrary to what people may expect. Alongside CLV’s staff, he developed strategies to tie modern business thinking and technology into a longstanding cultural education program.

It is important to Buggert to tie cultural awareness and lessons from business operations to what is already in place. His experiences have constantly shown him that “anywhere you go, anyone you’ll deal with, you have to learn something about someone else.”  

Buggert with other students in Germany

He saw this project as part of a whole semester tied into one all-encompassing study of multicultural business and supply chains. 

Buggert expects to continue doing similar work in the future, potentially working in international relations and supply chain management. He is specifically interested in global supply chain management, which includes managing goods, people, and information.

Alongside his many experiences, Buggert attributed much of his success so far to what he learned through taking German.

“Being able to use your words well has more power than anything I’ve ever seen. Language [education] has shown this to me,” he said. 

Outside of KEB Antriebstechnik’s CEO, Buggert was the only one who knew German at any level. Buggert said that his German competency is the biggest resume builder he has, is the reason he has found so many career opportunities, and is often the reason he has gotten interviews over other similarly qualified people.

However, Buggert recognizes not everyone wants to become proficient in a world language.

“You don’t necessarily need to master another language to master language education,” he said. “You can still get a lot of skills out of it, especially in cultural experience. I don’t think I can stress the importance enough of making the attempt [to learn]. The fact that you made the attempt will give you more knowledge and value in your life.”

“The world is no longer monopolar; there is no one single answer. You will always deal with someone different than you,” Buggert added. “Cultural education teaches you how to interact with people from all walks of life.”