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What can we learn from International Youth Day?

By Jillian Gordon - Posted on 9 August 2013

How international in outlook do you think you are? As International Youth Day approaches and with the emphasis this year being on youth migration, Doctor Jillian Gordon from Strathclyde Business School’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship asks how can we encourage and support young people to become more internationally minded?

At Strathclyde Business School we offer a number of opportunities to students to study overseas as part of their course. The International Business and International Business with Modern Language degrees both have compulsory elements of international study, which allow students to spend time living and studying in a foreign country. There’s much to be gained from stepping out of the comfort zone of attending university at home to gaining an international perspective first-hand. Experiencing life overseas enables students to broaden their horizons, spot opportunities, interact with other cultures and to recognise the quality of their home institution.

Orr Leshem is a good example – a 2011 Business Enterprise and Economics graduate, Orr spent a year at Kingston University in Canada and says it was an incredible experience. Orr now works at the L’Oreal Group, is responsible for three well-known brands and manages multi-million pound budgets; he credits his choice of degree and the international experience he gained as being instrumental to where he is today. This is echoed by Nicola McMillan, a 2011 graduate in Business Enterprise and International Business, who undertook a study trip to Canada during her undergraduate studies:

“I got to work on real life projects in numerous businesses, even when I studied abroad in Canada! I now work in a large global defence and aerospace company.”

In recent years, students like Letitia Lam have seized the opportunity to extend their learning through engaging in international internships such as those offered by the Saltire Foundation. Letitia, a recent graduate, undertook an internship in Barclays New York and now works for the company full time:

“The Strathclyde Business Enterprise degree has been an excellent platform in learning and developing essential skills for the academic and practical world. Aiming to merge theory with practice, the Hunter Centre’s curriculum has built the key confidence and skills.”

Another recent graduate, Alice Leyshon, is currently attending the prestigious Babson Summer programme in collaboration with Santander. It further illustrates the opportunities open to students to gain international experience even beyond their undergraduate studies:

“In almost every class we are encouraged to come up with new business solutions to problems. This international experience has been a brilliant way to round off my business enterprise degree at Strathclyde!”

So, what can we do to inspire our students who do not have compulsory elements of overseas study built into their degree programmes to take that international leap? Students studying for a BA Business Honours degree can opt to study overseas, but it’s the minority who do. The idea of leaving your home institution may seem a little daunting, but for those students profiled here; there is much value to be gained from stepping out of the comfort zone of home university into the unfamiliar environment of international study and internships.

Have you studied abroad? Perhaps you don’t think it’s important? Let us know in the comments below…

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