OK, maybe you’re not heading home to your alma mater, let alone crashing the party scene. For some, the holidays are a chance to jump on a plane and learn how business is done overseas. That’s the case for students at MIT and the University of Wisconsin, which sponsor two week excursions during holiday break. That way, students can see, first-hand, how culture, economics, and even infrastructure can shape how products are perceived and used.
Sure, hanging out with business leaders and immersing yourself in another culture sounds fun. But there are a number of do’s-and-don’ts for students to consider. Here is some advice compiled by US News and World Report:
Conduct Research: We’re not talking about surveying the climate or downloading maps (which are helpful). According to Sachin Tuli, a lecturer on international business at the University of Wisconsin, students need to weigh cultural mores, business practices, and political risks. Tuli also suggests that students review websites like Global Road Warrior or Country Watch to learn about a country’s etiquette and traditions. George Washington University’s Anna Helm adds that students should read books or watch movies from a country to get a better sense of what to expect. What’s more, investigate specific companies so you can learn about a specific market – and start a network in the process.
Know How You’re Perceived: Ever hear the term, “Ugly American?” Consider yourself to be an American diplomat. Don’t do anything to enflame the locals. If you lack good judgment, make sure you know exactly where your embassy is. And avoid any cameras. The BBC and Al Jazeera are available in America.
Learn The Native Tongue: English will only get you so far. Learn some basic phrases, such as “please” and “thank you” to make a good impression and gain trust. Tuli adds that connecting with locals will be the most rewarding part of your trip, so really dig in and get to know people. And that starts with understanding some semblance of the language.
Don’t Underestimate The Cost: Overseas trips can cost you an arm-and-a-leg (figuratively in most countries…literally in Saudi Arabia). Marcos Ortiz, a graduate of the Sloan School of Management at MIT, advises students to have a job lined up before going abroad so you have the funds to cover your trip.
Source: US News and World Report