The World Language Advantage: Simpson Grads Land Jobs at John Deere Thanks to Language Skills

By Katie Eichelberger ‘16

How do you say “snowblower” in French or in German?  Two Simpson grads, Kandi Erwin ’14 and Ann Jennings ’12, can tell you, thanks to their work at Deere & Company.  Erwin and Jennings landed their positions thanks to their language major from Simpson.

Jennings found her passion for German during her Simpson Experience Abroad semester in Schorndorf, Germany, where she lived with a host family, took classes with other Simpson students and integrated into local life.

“My Simpson education got me back into German and that’s really important to where I am today,” Jennings said. “Doing the study abroad program made me feel like I could use my German and actually do something with it. It gave me the confidence to try it and use it.”

After graduating from Simpson, Jennings received her Master’s degree in German from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, in the spring of 2015.

That summer, she stumbled across the customer service representative position at John Deere and landed the job right away.

“I have absolutely no farming background, but they have been great with training,” Jennings said. “I was like, ‘Okay, I can learn, and it will be fun.’”

Erwin began her job with John Deere as an auditor in August of 2015.

“They really needed someone who spoke French,” Erwin said, which is why she was selected for the position.

Erwin, who had studied for a semester on the Simpson Experience Abroad program in Tahiti, French Polynesia, was excited to put her language skills to use professionally.  At John Deere, using her French is one of the most rewarding aspects of her new position.

“There’s something about French.  It’s a beautiful language, and I’ve always been intrigued by it,” Erwin said.

Both Jennings and Erwin have enjoyed learning new terminology associated with the farming industry.  After all, “combine” is not a word that comes up in many language classes, but both grads have been well prepared through their course work at Simpson to be life-long learners.

Jennings credits her education and language skills for her success in the industry.

“It really is a door opener when you know a second language, so I just want to keep improving for now and hopefully it will keep benefitting me [in the future],” she said.