The Best of Both Worlds


The Best of Both Worlds
by Leah Grout Garris

Born and raised in Germany, it was a dream of Goar Kempf-Heitlinger ’17 to attend an American university. When he was in the United States for an International Doorway Athletic Showcase in 2012—an event that connects international student-athletes with American colleges and universities—he met Amir Hadzic ’10 MBA, Mount Mercy’s men’s soccer coach.

"Amir is the reason I came to Mount Mercy, convincing me that Mount Mercy would be the best fit,” says Goar Kempf-Heitlinger ’17. 

He arrived with the intention of playing soccer, seeing campus for the first time just a few days before classes started. 

As he settled in, he enjoyed the camaraderie of the soccer team but decided he wanted to experience other activities, too. After his freshman year, he shared with Hadzic his desire for an internship. “Traditionally, it’s difficult for international students to get internships,” says Kempf-Heitlinger.

Hiawatha, Iowa-based World Class Industries had recently contacted Hadzic about needing a German-speaking intern to assist with quotes. “We had just started our first international location in Germany and needed help processing supplier invoices that were sent to us in German,” says Brent Cobb, president at World Class Industries. 

He applied and soon became Mount Mercy’s first international student to secure a paid, off-campus internship. Although he landed the job because he was bilingual, he found success right away by applying his project management and leadership skills, says Nate Klein ’07, vice president for student success, who advised Kempf-Heitlinger as a Mount Mercy business faculty. 

Kempf-Heitlinger worked quarter time at World Class Industries for a couple semesters as he continued on the soccer team, where he started at goalie for three years.  

During his senior year, he rejoined World Class Industries as an accounting intern. At the same time, he became more involved in Enactus, an organization that unites student, academic, and business leaders through entrepreneurial projects. “He had a lot of leadership potential and was looking for an outlet outside the classroom,” says Klein. “I knew Enactus would offer this, so I encouraged him to get involved.” Kempf-Heitlinger led the team as president in 2016-2017 and helped capture a fourth-place finish during the Enactus U.S. National Expo in 2017. 

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in international management and finance, and a minor in economics, his time in the United States was coming to a close. Kempf-Heitlinger’s visa allowed him to stay in the United States for only one more year, so he worried about finding a job. But World Class Industries had the perfect opportunity. He trained with the company for six months and then, on Jan. 1, 2018, was relocated to Germany to lead German operations as the company’s supply chain specialist. He works with customers and suppliers, making sure orders are accurate and ensuring they ship out and arrive on time.

“Goar helped open our eyes to what we can accomplish when working within an internship program,” says Cobb. Since his internship, World Class Industries has made one additional full-time hire and two additional internship hires from Mount Mercy. 

“Because of his hard work, work ethic, and ability to produce results and build relationships, he paved the path for other students here to create an amazing partnership with World Class Industries,” says Klein. In fact, Mount Mercy is using this partnership as a model to form relationships with other local businesses.

“My first goal after graduation was to be World Class Industries’ next supply chain supervisor,” says Kempf-Heitlinger. His dream came true on Sept. 1, 2018, when he was promoted from specialist to supervisor. 

Working in Germany for an Iowa-based company gives him the best of both worlds. “I love that World Class Industries connects me with Iowa. When I come back, I get to see the people I met here. And when I’m in Germany, I get to spend as much time as possible with my sister and my parents. It’s like catching up with old friends.”  



Amir Hadzic ’10 MBA has been Mount Mercy’s men’s soccer coach for 23 seasons.

Amir Hadzic ’10 MBA
has been Mount Mercy's men's soccer coach for 23 seasons.