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Success starts here: going global

"Success Starts Here" is a series of six articles that introduce new students to the UW-Eau Claire College of Business. A new article will be posted each week until the fall academic term begins.

Expand your horizons by exploring the world

"We live in a multicultural, global business world," said Kelsey Kopp, academic adviser in the College of Business Center for Advising, Development and Enrichment. "Studying abroad shows employers you are open to different cultures and languages, and can adapt to new situations."

UW-Eau Claire continues to be a leader in sending students abroad. With opportunities in nearly 50 countries, UW-Eau Claire students can choose a program that meets their personal and academic interests, and fits their budget. Many of those programs also offer business classes.

Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed CADE adviser Kelsey Kopp, to learn more about study abroad opportunities available to business students.

Why study abroad?

K.K. It is becoming increasingly important for students to gain international business exposure to enhance their career opportunities. Many Wisconsin and Minnesota companies - large and small - work with customers and clients around the world. In addition to working for corporations like 3M and Cargill, international career opportunities for business students also exist in governmental agencies that focus on economic development and international trade, as well as in nonprofit organizations like the Peace Corps.

There are so many study abroad opportunities at UW-Eau Claire. What should I take into consideration when selecting a program?

K.K. You should start with your personal goals. Perhaps you have always dreamed about going to Italy. Maybe you were born in China and want to see your birth country. Perhaps you want to improve your language skills or experience total immersion in another culture.

Then there are practical things to consider, such as the length of the program, course offerings, language competency, grade point requirement, and program cost.

Advisers in the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education are available to discuss the different programs with you. They also host a study abroad fair in the fall where you can talk to students who have studied at various programs. This fall's Study Abroad Fair is September 30 in the Davies Center.

You mentioned language competency. Do most abroad programs require that you be fluent in another language?

K.K. No, most programs don't require foreign language competency. However, it's helpful to have some knowledge of the language prior to going abroad.

That brings up an interesting question: Do business students need a second language?

K.K. Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates once remarked that his biggest regret in life is that he only speaks English. Being fluent in another language is a competitive advantage that opens up many opportunities, and it is the best way to learn about another culture. However, learning a second language is really up to you. Unless you are an international business major or minor, the College of Business doesn't require you to study a foreign language.

Many students like the idea of studying abroad, but they haven't done much traveling. Will they be alone or part of a group?

K.K. It is extremely rare that a student will go on a study abroad experience absolutely alone. The vast majority of UW-Eau Claire students go together-the typical group ranges from 5-50 students. Some programs, like the college's Winterim trip to India or Interim trip to China, are led by UW-Eau Claire business faculty. This past summer Tom Sulzer from Information Systems and DeeAnne Peterson from Accounting and Finance took a group of students to China. In January, Ann Rupnow from Management and Marketing will lead a trip to India.

When is the best time for business students to study abroad?

K.K. There isn't really one best time. This is a good question for freshmen to discuss with their CADE adviser.

If you want to take some business courses while you are overseas, you should plan on studying abroad once you have been accepted to the College of Business. For most students that is their junior year. If you want to go earlier, you will probably be taking general education courses like geography and history. Again, your CADE adviser can help you develop a plan that best fits your needs.

What if I can't study abroad for an entire semester? Are there shorter programs?

K.K. Yes, the College of Business has the two shorter programs I mentioned earlier. In addition, the Center for International Education offers several shorter programs where students can take business and/or other subjects. One program that comes to mind is the Winterim program at the Istituto Lorenzo de' Medici in Italy. This program offers courses in 32 subject areas.

Earlier you mentioned that program costs vary. Where can I find this information?

K.K. The Center for International Education provides cost estimates for each program on their website. It also offers other useful financial information, such as how to use financial aid or secure scholarships to help pay for your trip. The bottom line: it is never too early to start planning for your study abroad experience academically and financially.

Any final thoughts?

K.K. I didn't study abroad as an undergraduate student - but I wish I had!

In graduate school I went on a 10-day study trip to Germany to visit a variety of German universities and learn about their education system. Learning about the similarities and differences between the U.S. and German higher education systems was a great experience that gave me insight on the advising and student services we offer here.

Sightseeing in Germany and talking to German students was a great cultural experience. It was the first time I traveled outside the U.S./Canada, so it was really fun to explore and learn about the culture. Being in a new place and not knowing the language was also eye-opening - we got the hang of the word "entschuldigung!" ("excuse me"/"sorry") very quickly.

I encourage everyone to study abroad if they can. There's no time like college to spend a whole semester or year abroad, fully immersing yourself in another culture.

Meet Kelsey Kopp, CADE adviser

Kelsey KoppKelsey is the academic adviser for students majoring in international business, information systems, and marketing. She also coordinates two CADE programs: B-FRST, a program that involves and connects new students to the campus, and Financial Responsibility Resources, a guide for students that provides information on smart borrowing, student loans and repayment options, personal finance and budgeting.

When she isn't working, Kelsey likes to keep busy with a variety of projects. She enjoys cooking and coming up with new recipes. And she is a self-admitted Pinterest fanatic who loves working on DIY projects around the house.

Kelsey encourages new freshmen to not be afraid to try new things.

"College is an amazing opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, explore new interests and meet new people," she said. "If you're not sure where to start or would like some ideas, ask your CADE adviser. We're here to help!"