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Matt Martell

International exchanges open gateways to the world

May 29, 2008

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By Diane Luckow

Matt Martell’s international exchange semester at the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris inspired the business administration and political science student to work internationally and explore more of the world.

Tom Kineshanko’s exchange semester in Singapore was the best six months of his life. It also changed the way the geography and business administration student thinks about himself, his studies and his place in the world. "It opened my mind to thinking more entrepreneurially," says Kineshanko. "And I’m now very comfortable leaving Canada and working elsewhere."

Student international exchanges such as these were up 16 per cent in 2007 and they’re increasing every year, says Kate Jennings, acting co-director for SFU International, which oversees all international exchanges and field schools for students and staff.

"Graduate and undergraduate students are recognizing that international experience will put them into a different category when they’re looking for employment. They bring the cross-cultural and international experience they’ve had to the workplace."

Three years ago, SFU Business began to put increased emphasis on international exchange semesters. The faculty hired its own international student coordinator, began offering travel stipends of as much as $1,000 for eligible students and started developing partnerships with international business schools.

Business administration students can now choose from 36 business schools worldwide, ranging from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile to Lund University in Sweden and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

As a result, the number of business administration students participating in international exchanges has doubled, says Rosanne Ng, the faculty’s international student coordinator. "We were sending about 60 students three years ago; now it’s more than 120 a year," she says.

Martell says his experience in Paris was "absolutely fantastic." Both the professors and the students were from around the world, he says, and a chance encounter during his stay developed into a six-month internship in Euro Disney’s real estate development group, where he worked with the finance team.

"Disney was a pretty amazing company to work for," he says. And although he’s not certain where his career path will take him after he convocates in June, he does know that his international experience "will be very beneficial for my career."

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