It’s a lucky thing for Jess Smith that she’s on schedule to graduate next spring. Because thanks to her Stevens-related international travels, she’s just about due for a new passport.
Smith, who will graduate in 2017 with a degree in Quantitative Finance, has traveled to London, Greece and, most recently, Spain on School of Business-supported study trips to visit corporate and cultural landmarks around the world. The weeklong trip to Spain, which concluded earlier this summer, gave students the chance to meet managers and see attractions in Barcelona and Madrid.
She said the Stevens trips are “the perfect combination of learning and being able to experience the culture of other countries.”
“This experience has allowed me to obtain a new perspective on global economics and how businesses function in different areas of the world,” said Smith, who is interning at Prudential this summer. “This is something that will definitely stick with me as I head into the real world, because I'll be able to apply what I've learned in so many ways.”
Travel on par with internships
Stevens began offering the short study abroad trips in response to the growing demand for professionals who bring firsthand knowledge of how business gets done abroad, said Dr. Zvi Aronson, who supervises international study trips. Going abroad is also a focus of the Stevens Executive MBA, which includes a seminar on global business and a study trip to China.
“The world is increasingly interconnected, but just because every city has a Starbucks doesn’t mean business is done the same everywhere,” Dr. Aronson said. “Having study abroad experience on your résumé has become just as important as a strong internship, and short trips like this help change the way students think about global business.”
“Each place we went tapped into the cultural aspect of how businesses are different in Spain, but they also promoted a sense of innovation at those companies, which aligns so well with what Stevens is all about.”
Verica Nakeva, who will be a junior in the fall, is pursuing a degree in Business & Technology with a concentration in International Business, and is working this summer in Prudential’s regulatory oversight group as a global business and technology solutions intern. She said she most appreciated the chance to see how companies in different spaces innovate to meet customer demands.
Her favorite corporate visit was the bathroom design company Roca, which builds gallery-style showrooms near its distribution centers to better meet the needs of its wholesale customers, as well as to provide a forum to interact with architects or other designers the company wants to work with.
Seeing innovation up close
“I never thought I’d be going to a toilet gallery,” Nakeva said. “But it was so interesting to see the innovation behind it — not only the technological aspect of how they present the gallery, but just the idea of creating a gallery like this to enable teaming up with architects and hosting conferences. So it emphasized thinking outside the box, which was a theme for each visit — each place we went tapped into the cultural aspect of how businesses are different in Spain, but they also promoted a sense of innovation at those companies, which aligns so well with what Stevens is all about.”
It’s not only business students who get to go on these trips. Richie Logatto, a rising senior in the Mechanical Engineering program who also plans to earn his master’s from Stevens, said the chance to meet with managers helped emphasize the practical value of his education.
“The business managers did a great job showing that what we’re doing in the classroom is applicable to the real world,” said Logatto, who’s interning this summer with the data operations team at Nasdaq.
Logatto said a visit to the marketing offices of Hub BBDO was particularly worthwhile, “because learning about the advertising industry and seeing how they need to adapt to the technological changes in the real world was very interesting.” Toledo, with its many old churches and steel forgers, was his favorite cultural visit, he said.
Students on the trip said the experience was a powerful lesson in the value of challenging established thinking and self discovery.
“We were able to learn inside and outside of the classroom, which was a somewhat new experience to me,” said Logatto, the engineering student. “Going abroad was the perfect end to the semester — I learned a lot, saw so many beautiful sites, and made friends with people I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to if it wasn’t for this trip.”
Nakeva, who hopes to have a future in international business, echoed that sentiment, and would like to study abroad again next year.
“You can’t appreciate differences in cultures just by reading about them,” she said. “That’s what the world is about — meeting people, working together and finding your way. Learning to do those things well makes you successful, whether it’s on an internship or when you start working.”