Kennesaw State alumnus selected for international exchange program for young professionals


Ian McDonald is among only 75 Americans to intern in Germany for a year with an exclusive professional training program

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 13, 2021) — A Kennesaw State University graduate has embarked on another step toward his goal of a career abroad by earning a spot in a prestigious international exchange program co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the German government.

Ian McDonald, who earned a bachelor’s degree in international business from Kennesaw State’s Coles College of Business in 2020, left for Germany on July 31 to start the one-year Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. U.S. participants complete an immersive German language program, study for a semester at a German university and end the program with an internship at a German company. German participants follow the same schedule in the U.S. Just 75 people from each country are selected to participate each year.

“I learned about the program through some professors I had in my undergraduate courses at Kennesaw State,” McDonald said. “One had a daughter that was part of the high school version of the program and highly recommended it.”

While not yet fluent in German, McDonald said he has a solid foundation in the basics of the language that he learned at Kennesaw State. Professor Sabine Smith, coordinator of the university’s German studies program, wrote a letter of recommendation in support of McDonald’s exchange program application.

“His level-headed approach and can-do attitude to everything, his resilience in the face of challenges and obstacles, and his personable professionalism replete with humbleness, intellectual curiosity, and a ready smile make him a truly authentic and instantly likable young professional,” Smith said. “I cannot think of a candidate more suitable for the program.”

McDonald also had support to participate in the exchange program from managers in the North American headquarters of German automaker BMW, where he has worked since graduating from Kennesaw State.

“BMW is very supportive of my participation in the program,” McDonald said. “My manager and the director of my department both reached out to their German colleagues to help me find a position in Munich during the program.”

Participation in the exchange program will help him reach his long-term career goals, he added.

“I would like to work abroad for some time and gain some experience while seeing the world,” McDonald said. 

McDonald was very active while a Kennesaw State student, participating in extracurricular activities and playing on the club hockey team. That multi-tasking habit will continue even while he completes the exchange program.

“I am also working with two close friends and fellow KSU alumni in conjunction with the Mookerji Innovation fund at the university to start an entertainment service company called SnapMovies,” McDonald said. “The website is intended to help individuals quickly find tailored content to watch, eliminating the endless scrolling that has become all too common when searching. We hope to launch within the next year.”

As part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, two participants from Germany will arrive at Kennesaw State this week to begin the program, Smith said.