International travel ground to a halt last semester, but the Center for Global Business has developed solutions to allow students to gain international experience virtually.
Global business and human resource management junior Grace Richmond was one of 56 students approved to study abroad last spring. Richmond had planned to go on a two-week trip with her mother across China before settling into her semester at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in late February. Three weeks before her departure, she received notice that her classes were suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic.
Richmond is one of an estimated 220 global business majors in JSOM. Each of those students has an international experience requirement as part of their degree that can be completed through a study abroad, two faculty-led trips or an international internship.
While the first two options are currently unavailable, Global Business Program Director Hubert Zydorek said he has been working to ensure that the lattermost option is still open to students. After a successful pilot program this summer, the Center for Global Business is rolling out a virtual international internship program in partnership with the Global Education and Career Development Abroad (GlobalEd).
“Based on the feedback and testimonials I received from students, it was truly well-received,” Zydorek said. “It’s not only an internship per se, but throughout the period students are receiving professional development workshops (from) experts from LinkedIn, Amazon and other companies.”
There are three options for the GlobalEd program: team-based internships of three to five students, project management internships and independent internships. Over 300 students registered for the program’s information sessions.
“We created the platform for global business students, but there seems like there is a lot more interest university-wide and JSOM-wide to take advantage of these opportunities,” Zydorek said.
Another option for students is the Global Development Initiative (GDI): a partnership between the Center for Global Business and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. Students conduct market research and analysis for companies based in foreign countries such as Japan, South Korea, Sweden and Finland. Jamie Schmidt, a global business and supply chain senior, has been part of the program for the past four semesters and is a team leader this semester.
“It’s helped me gain a worldly mentality,” Schmidt said. “I learned how recent legislation and international relations affect businesses. I’ve researched regulations and certifications for different countries trying to come into the U.S. market.”
Schmidt planned to intern in Japan this summer, but after her trip was canceled, she decided to spend her time working with GDI members to streamline the program for the current semester. Although she wanted to intern abroad, she said that the program provided her great insight into the real world of business.
“Classes teach us skills, but (GDI) gives us the opportunity to put our hands on problems and see how variable each situation is,” Schmidt said. “I learned to put myself in the company’s shoes and learn good strategy for market entry, value proposition and entrepreneurship.”
Students wanting to study abroad next spring will have to wait for an official announcement on the issue from the International Oversight Committee in September. In the meantime, students looking for internships domestically should apply now, said career development specialist Jason Cirilo. Companies recruit summer interns during the fall semester, and he said he noticed a significant increase in demand for supply chain, finance and IT internships.
In a similar vein, Richmond decided to minor in business intelligence and analytics to gain more technical skills after evaluating the current job market. Her career path was previously more ambiguous and undecided, she said.
“My career trajectory is the same, I just have a better idea of what I want to do now,” Richmond said. “I spent this summer figuring out what ITS was and now I’ve decided I want to go into technical consulting. I’m waiting to hear back from the committee, but until then I have new hard skills I’ll be working on.”