Immersion into today’s globally connected world begins in college — a driving force behind the newly launched University of Southern California’s World Bachelor in Business (WBB) program.
The program, the first of its kind, sends students abroad for two to three years, providing participants the opportunity to spend a year at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Universitá Bocconi in Milan and the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles. Students finish their fourth and final year at any of the three partner universities of their choosing, graduating with a degree in business from each of the three schools.
“The three-continent learning experience cultivates students’ understanding of not only the business practices and economics but the cultures and societies of the different regions,” said John Matsusaka, a vice dean at the USC Marshall School of Business. “We expect that many WBB graduates will end up working in multiple regions during their careers and that global travel will be an integral part of their professional and personal lives.”
With a growing push among colleges nationwide to send students abroad — be it a semester of study or three years away — what of the experience enriches a student’s education? In today’s interconnected world, do the benefits of spending an extended period abroad increase prospects for post-graduate employment opportunities?
“Employers are looking for candidates who understand other cultures and speak different languages,” said Gen-Y workplace and consumer expert Dan Schawbel. “[Students] are competing globally and are [hired] for positions that exist overseas, not just in the states.”
Studying abroad allows for the transfer of lessons in a textbook to the realities of everyday living. In doing so, students can establish contacts and foster relationships within foreign communities — an important step for those seeking employment abroad in today’s interconnected world.
“There is only so much you can learn about social systems of another country in the classroom,” said Becca Paley-Williams, a graduate of American University.
The 22-year-old had spent a semester studying in Rome and three months backpacking Europe before graduating college, packing her bags and moving to Auckland, New Zealand. Paley-Williams now works in medical research, studying under New Zealand and American professionals to gain hands-on knowledge of global health care systems.
“As a future doctor, I feel I’ll understand what works best for a health care system and what negatively affects care after seeing variations from different ends of the globe,” she said.
Experience abroad reflects a level of adaptability in adjusting to a new environment — a skill employers note while reviewing prospective job candidates.
“We believe global experiential learning, whether it is the weeklong, semester, summer or study abroad programs … make a difference when hiring managers evaluate candidates,” said Guillermina Molina, USC-Marshall director of undergraduate programs. “Hiring managers may look for particular traits such as whether … [candidates] are independent and are open to new experiences, as well as how they manage risk.”
It’s by venturing abroad that students bridge the connections among the globally connected world — piecing knowledge gained overseas into their understanding and appreciation for just how today’s world works.
“The days of just working and thinking on a local scale and only for ourselves are gone,” Matsusaka said. “We hope that [WBB graduates] will gain a keen appreciation of how the world works and how cultures and organizations interact.”
For in today’s world, “strengthening connections across the globe benefits everyone,” he added.
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