Students afforded opportunities with businesses abroad

Austin Walker
Contributing Writer

A VCU School of Business program is sending students around the globe to collaborate with international businesses and corporations, and the benefits extend beyond a change of scenery.

The VCU International Consulting Program sends students to four different countries to consult  with leaders of various businesses and corporations in an effort to more effectively bring VCU graduates into the international job market.

Lasting seven weeks, the program aims to train the students with cultural engagement, language expansion and general social skills. The first four weeks of the course are spent in Richmond preparing for the venture. The students then board a plane and spend the next several weeks in one of the four countries with partner institutions around the world.

The program is not funded by VCU, however, and requires both a payment of $1,500 and six credits of summer tuition. The ICP also requires the students to pay for their own airfare and meals.

The program has sites in Cyprus, Spain, the Czech Republic and Greece. The students are sent to these countries alongside a pair of faculty members who oversee the project and assist the students.

With the exception of the Cyprus location which accepts only graduate students, the program is open to  undergraduate and graduate students with at least a 2.0 GPA in conjunction with certain course prerequisites.

Greg Waller, Ph.D., an assistant professor at VCU, started the program in 2013, and will continue the program into the summer of 2015. Prior to his employment at VCU, he worked with a similar program at Ohio State University and brought some of those ideas to Richmond.

“This is a combination of an international experience with problem-based experiential learning,” Waller said.

Students benefit from bolstered skill sets and portfolios alike, and Waller said the experience gained through the ICP is often a selling point for potential employers.

“When they went to the interview that’s what they (the employer) wanted to talk about,” Waller said.

Katie Gilstrap is an assistant professor at VCU who worked alongside students as they prepared for the trip as well as throughout their travel experience.

“We make sure they have the resources and supplies they need.” Gilstrap said. “We’re meeting with them every night.”

In the last year, the amount of participating students has increased roughly 30 percent. However, Waller is still asking for more student participation. As their program expands, more companies and universities around the globe are taking interest in partnering with VCU.

To encourage more students to enter the program, Waller said they’ve increased the marketing of the program within the school. They visited different business classrooms and have speakers, both faculty and alumni of the program, talk to the students about the program.

This year, the leaders of the ICP will send students and faculty to the same countries as in previous years. Students work with only one country each year.

Registration is available on the ICP website, with a $200 discount provided for students who register before Dec. 1, 2014.  The domestic education begins for students in May, and they can expect to leave the country on June 12. Students have begun the signup process already, and they’ve yet to release a limit on the maximum amount of students they will accept.

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