Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post produced for Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business.
It’s only a year long, but Master’s of International Business students at Georgia State University could already see how the degree will influence their futures as they approached December graduation.
The Robinson College of Business program is attractive to many for its timeframe — just two semesters, which cuts down on costs and enhances the focus on practical content.
Not only do the courses hone in on global issues and strategies, but the program itself draws many foreign students, creating the very diversity that students will face in the working world. This year’s class includes enrollees from Afghanistan, Colombia, Kenya and other countries.
Working closely together throughout the year, each cohort has the chance to build strong personal ties, sometimes breeding entrepreneurial ideas that span beyond the confines of the classroom. The degree also requires field study — designated time out in the real world, either traveling abroad or engaging in relevant work experience.
Jennifer Preyss, a religion and business writer originally from Marietta, was living in Texas when she chose to come back home for a program she believed would set the stage for her next career move. An accomplished journalist covering the beliefs and businesses of people from around the world, Ms. Preyss could see a limited future ahead in publishing without more management skills.
“As the years went on, I realized if I were to ever pivot away from reporting, editing or creative directing, my skills would be contained to a limited, lateral career path,” she said. “It certainly isn’t common for journalists to choose graduate-level business school over a masters-level (journalism) school, but the MIB program at Georgia State caught my attention because it fused my two passions: international people and business.” [Read the full Q&A with Ms. Preyss]
Ms. Preyss was also drawn to the “petri dish” of international cultures the program enabled at the Buckhead Center campus. Married to a Tunisian immigrant, she reveled in the fact that she found Atlanta to be a more diverse city than the one she’d left after getting her bachelor’s at Georgia State.
“Atlanta has changed substantially since I lived here more than a decade ago, but the city seems to be thriving, growing and attracting a premier global community that will inevitably continue to bring a steady stream of economic development and international diversity to the city,” Ms. Preyss said.
That diversity creates a “demand and supply curve” that reinforces itself in the city’s changing demography, said Mohammad Qais Nasimi, who’s originally from Kabul, Afghanistan. It’s a virtuous cycle: Companies need the talent, and qualified people come here because the companies are looking, said Mr. Nasimi, who calls himself a “global citizen.”
“Atlanta is a great place to learn global business because it’s very diverse and gives you an opportunity to interact with all different backgrounds, which is crucial,” Mr. Nasimi said. “I have seen a lot international companies’ footprints over the last couple years.”
The program intentionally provides that interaction, he said, using hands-on simulations and field visits to drive home important lessons: Mr. Nasimi learned how to work in virtual global teams, conduct international negotiations and analyze markets through the MIB.
“I learned how businesses work and what were their biggest challenges, either working for somebody else or having their own business. Overall it was a great experience,” Mr. Nasimi said. [Read the full Q&A with Mr. Nasimi]
Another example was MIB student Arthur Kiboit, who through a study-abroad connection helped Moroccan startup Sultan Tea introduce a new cold tea concept in a North African country where the drink is traditionally served hot. With Mr. Kiboit’s input, the company ended up going with “cool tea” to avoid diluting the brand by linking it to ice.
This type of “real-life” approach, combined with the fact that this year’s cohort is a veritable melting pot, appealed to Monica Mendoza, a native of Bogota, Colombia, who decided to pursue the MIB after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgia State in 2015.
Ms. Mendoza particularly like how much of the class material was based on case studies, and she enjoyed visits to the Port of Savannah as well as a project advising a European startup looking to tackle the international market.
“The most valuable lesson I learned is that adaptability is key,” she said. “International business is all about relationships and how well you are able to adapt to different cultures and environments.”
The program is different than what she could find back home in Colombia, she said, noting that coming from Bogota, a city of 8 million, to Atlanta was a bit of culture shock that was worth pushing through.
“Having an American degree does add value to your resume,” she said. [Read the full Q&A with Ms. Mendoza]
Ms. Mendoza is currently working as a fellow in the office of the president of CARE USA, the poverty-fighting nonprofit. She hopes to gain a full-time job with the organization soon.
For Ms. Preyss, whether it’s going back to her writing career, helping universities with communications, forging ahead with cross-cultural coaching or working on a new venture with a Kenyan classmate, she feels prepared for whatever comes in the future.
“I believe the MIB has allowed me to accomplish the goals I laid out for myself at the start of the year, and I am confident I will add even more value to the next company I join.”
Learn more about the MIB program here or view the video below: