KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Western Michigan University student is the first to intern with Parker Hannifin, a U.S. American Fortune 250 leader in motion and control technologies, in one of their Germany locations.
Anna Litvinova, a WMU junior majoring in aerospace engineering and German speaker, is interning abroad with Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin in their Mainz, Germany location. Litvinova is interning with a mentor in Parker Hannifin's aerospace division doing supervised work as well as taking online WMU classes. WMU's partnership with Parker Hannifin started in 2017, making Litvinova the first WMU student to complete this internship. Litvinova's internship runs from January to June of 2018.
Joseph Rasich, assistant director of Study Abroad, worked directly with Parker Hannifin to create the internship experience that would best suit Litinova's education. This partnership creates opportunities for engineering majors, who often struggle to find study abroad programs that fit their curriculum.
"We chose to work with Parker because we were looking to partner with a company that had a presence in Southwest Michigan, but also abroad," Rasich said.
Parker Hannifin has international locations in 55 different countries.
While nearly 600 WMU students study abroad every year, Litvinova's credit-bearing internship is different because she is gaining "on the job" experience. At Parker Hannifin, Litvinova works closely with project
engineers on tasks assigned to her every day, providing her with her first hands-on engineering experience.
Litvinova hopes to contribute to the improvement of safety in aviation with the knowledge gained at her internship with Parker Hannifin.
"Studying and interning abroad are good opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zones," Rasich said. "This opportunity will diversify you as an individual in a way that wouldn't manifest itself in the U.S."
MORE ABOUT ANNA LITVINOVA
Litvinova was a great match for the internship due to her previous experience in Germany. While born in Russia, Litvinova moved to Germany with her mother at the age of nine to complete grades five through 10 and was able to pick up the language and culture fast with the help of teachers and peers.
"The rest of my family are still in Russia and [my mother and I] try to visit them every summer. I speak only Russian at home with my mother and read and write it fluently. Russia is what I truly consider to be my home country even though we lived in Germany for a while," Litvinova said.
When Litvinova's mother received a job as a WMU professor, she moved to the United States to finish the last two years of high school and begin obtaining her bachelor's degree. The diversity of the people and programs on campus influenced Litvinova's decision to study at WMU.
"I decided to study at WMU because it has something to offer every student. Here you can find people with very different interests from your own and learn so much from each other. WMU has a very large international community and I am very happy to be part of it as I have found some of my closest friends here," Litvinova said.
Transitioning to living independently in a foreign culture was still a daunting task for Litvinova despite her previous experiences abroad. Litvinova is living in student housing in the city of Mainz, Germany, right next to Wiesbaden. The cities are separated by the Rhine river.
"For the first time I do not have family or very close friends next to me. Living on my own in a foreign country helps me to become more independent and focus on myself and my own development. I am loving this experience, but of course I am missing my family and friends," Litvinova said.
WMU STUDY ABROAD
WMU Study Abroad, a unit of the Deither Haenicke Institute for Global Education, creates, facilitates and manages academic and internship opportunities outside the continental United States. Students interested in study or interning abroad are strongly advised to attend an information session, held daily in 2425 Ellsworth Hall, browse programs in the Broncos Abroad portal, or to attend an advising appointment during walk-in hours, available during fall and spring semesters.
In addition to raising students' geographical and cultural awareness, study and interning abroad has been linked to cognitive, academic and professional benefits.
Learn more about study and internship abroad opportunities at wmich.edu/studyabroad.