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Undergraduate Business Students Go International

Maria Villaquiran (BBA '11) and Nicole Najjar (BBA '11) on the GWSB Paris Program

The number of GWSB students choosing to study abroad has reached an all time high. In the fall 2009 to summer 2010 academic year, 46 percent of the total number of eligible undergraduate students studied abroad — an 8 percent increase from the previous year.

Larry Fillian, director of undergraduate advising and assessment, credits an initiative by the GWSB Undergraduate Advising Center for the increase. In concert with the GW Office for Study Abroad, they have developed a variety of partnerships with new universities such as Kent State University in Florence, the Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen and Bocconi University in Milan. These new opportunities join already well-established programs in Barcelona with the IES Abroad Barcelona Liberal Arts & Business Program, Paris at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Sydney at the University of Sydney and London at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Study abroad is the single most transformative moment of the undergraduate experience and it is especially important for business students,” Fillian said. “We exist within a global economy and immersion in a study abroad program allows students to bring a global orientation to their course work and, eventually, their real work.”

Information sessions, speakers at the First Year Development Program, a two-semester sequence of developmental experiences required for first-year business students, and a huge study abroad fair have all helped to tout the program. At the Undergraduate Advising Center, advisers ask every student if they are considering studying abroad. Students are encouraged to get to know the countries they will be doing business with and capitalize on this study abroad experience in their job interviews.

Erica Wertheim, BA, ’11, studied abroad through IES Barcelona in fall 2009. Not only did she immerse herself in the culture and become nearly fluent in Spanish while abroad, one of Wertheim’s professors, Jorge Mongay, adjunct faculty at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Escola Universitaria Caixa de Terrassa and Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya, even selected a paper she wrote to be published in an international business masters textbook.

“It is essential to work on your language skills and learn how another country does business,” she said. “Siestas are very important in Barcelona, and if you are unaware of that, it makes doing business a challenge.”

The fall 2010 semester also showed an increase in study abroad interest, promising to perpetuate the upward trend. Fillian’s hopes are high that the number of students studying abroad will reach 50 percent.

This increase in undergraduate interest reflects a rich tradition of GWSB students studying abroad. Graduate students in the business school have a history of international involvement.  In fact, the Global MBA program requires students to consult professionally abroad. Projects have included those focused on business and public policy in Seoul, South Korea to agri-food marketing in Belgrade, Serbia and beyond.

Posted by gwsb on January 10, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


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The members of the MBA Admissions team contribute to the blog with postings about recruitment tours, events, interviews with current students, and insights about the admissions process. The team is composed of:

Christopher Storer, Executive Director
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Jason Smith, Assistant Director
Shelly Heinrich, Admissions Consultant
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