Looking back, do you wish you had studied abroad?
Dr. Jim Eckert, associate professor of marketing, says a missing component for him during college was study abroad. Not having that chance during his undergraduate years, when the opportunity came later in life, he grabbed it—and combined it with his love of teaching, culminating in a recent recognition from a German university for his superior efforts in the classroom.
“In 2005, I went to Germany on a short-course study abroad trip led by another professor. It made a big impact on me, and I decided to pursue additional opportunities,” says Eckert, who has since led 7 short-course study abroad trips for WMU and taught 15 courses at the University of Paderborn as a visiting professor.
When Eckert returned to Germany after that first experience, he says, “I invited myself to teach” at the University of Paderborn, where he has taught negotiation and selling courses. It didn’t take long for Eckert’s classes to become well-received on Paderborn’s campus.
According to Dr. Andreas Eggert, professor of marketing at the University of Paderborn, “Jim’s 2014 winter semester class on Relationship Driven Selling: Theory and Practice, received the best rating of the year. A perfect 1.0—a result that has never been achieved before.”
Each December, Eckert teaches the Relationship Driven Selling course in Paderborn. And each May he leads the WMU German Business and Culture short-course study abroad program, traveling with a group of 25 WMU students throughout Germany to learn about business there. Following these travels, the group heads to Paderborn where Eckert combines the short-course study abroad program with a one-week negotiation course taken by both WMU students and University of Paderborn students.
Eckert says he runs these courses like corporate training seminars with engaging content and a practical point of view, a contrast with the typical German teaching style. Students have class all day and homework every night during the course.
“The courses I teach in Germany focus on the how: how to sell; how to negotiate. This practical approach is in contrast to the theoretical approach used in most German business classes.” says Eckert.
Having missed an opportunity to study abroad when he was a student, Eckert is now ensuring that WMU and German students gain experiences and knowledge from him as they pursue careers in global business.