Why having experience overseas is becoming increasingly important for aspiring business professionals

BCBusiness + Royal Roads University

The Bachelor of Business Administration in Sustainability and International Business program at Royal Roads

As local businesses expand their operations and partnerships beyond Canadian borders, the number of employers looking for professionals with cross-cultural knowledge and experience is growing

Businesses are becoming increasingly international in scope and the universities that train future employees must adapt. What they offer needs to provide students with a well-rounded background in technical tasks—like understanding different markets and regulatory regimes, geopolitics and global supply chains—as well as teach them the intangible skills to make them stand out from their fellow graduates.

“There is a lot of data that suggests students who have international experience in their education have an advantage in the job market,” says Todd Thexton, head of the Bachelor of Business Administration in Sustainability and International Business program at Royal Roads University. “Employers are looking for people with cross-cultural understanding and international experience, because they know that these are the people who are going to be the most resilient and versatile. These are people who have opened themselves up to new ways of thinking and exposed themselves to different cultural perspectives.”

The global businessperson

In order for graduates to enter this global workforce, schools like Royal Roads University focus on training students to be responsible global citizens, both in their own programs, as well as in international dual degree partnerships.

“Global business isn’t about exploiting resources where they’re cheap, it’s about trying to bring value and improve the lives of everybody who’s involved in a business or product,” says Thexton.

It’s also not only defined as business outside of your own country. Canada, for example, did $1.05 trillion worth of bilateral trade in goods last year. All of those national partnerships required employees who could work in a multi-cultural setting, and be able to navigate different cultures, languages and policies.

Studying abroad

For those who decide to study abroad, the advantages can be substantial. Being in a foreign environment forces students to adapt, overcome adversity and be resilient.

“The challenge of putting yourself in an unfamiliar place is an amazing learning and personal development experience in and of itself,” says Thexton.

It also allows students to take the skills they’re learning in the classroom and implement them into the wider context of their lives. The type of program that exemplifies this is the Master of Global Management and MBA in International Business dual degree between Royal Roads University and the Management Centre Innsbruck in Austria.

Tips for Studying Overseas

  • When choosing a school, be aware of its size. Are you looking for an atmosphere where you can meet as many people as possible or an intimate setting where you get to know your classmates and teachers on a deeper level?
  • Take advantage of staff, as they’re there to help you settle in, arrange practicalities, offer resources and provide academic support.
  • Be curious: It’s natural to gravitate towards people from your own country, but challenge yourself to form relationships with those from other cultures.
  • Why not volunteer? This allows you to integrate into the local community and learn the language (if it’s not your native tongue).
  • Learn from your classmates. The international experience is about engaging with your colleagues and learning from them first-hand about their culture and perspectives.

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with Royal Roads University