Thanks, Europe: Solidifying My Major

Immersing herself in both the business culture and social tendencies of Switzerland and Italy, Tori Weiner discusses how Freshman Global Lab helped her solidify her major.

Standing atop Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps, about half way through my first trip to Europe, I realized the power of travel, the power of business, and the power of networking.  Hopping on a mini sled down the side of the Alps, screaming with excitement and lack of air due to high altitude with my friend and classmate, Madie, brought a feeling of ultimate euphoria and a bond to the cohort of students on The Fisher College of Business’s Freshman Global Lab.  From Zurich to Bern to Lucerne, Switzerland’s picturesque cities embody the exact image of Europe.  Walking the streets and taking the trams to restaurants and city centers allowed me to envision myself as a working adult in the real world.  Only 10 days away from the excessive monotony of America opened my eyes to the power of travel and the effects it can have on one’s personal and career-related choices.

Because Switzerland is one of the financial capitals of the world, we met with investment and accounting firms to wet our palettes with that aspect of business.  Reflecting back on the trip, those 2-hour company visits ignited the reality of college, deciding on a major, and creating the start to my future.  To truly immerse myself in the experience, I asked at least one question at each company we visited to show my appreciation for their time and to enrich my interest and understanding of the interconnectedness of international and domestic business.  Seeing the variety of options and reliable career paths inspired me to further research finance once back at school and picture myself in one of those investment firms.

Torino and Milan brought gelato, sports cars, pasta, and fashion.  When I found out we were going on a food tour of Torino’s main square, Piazza San Carlo, my dreams came true.  The first solid food I ate as a child was pasta, so to truly experience a 5 course Italian meal (with the best pasta I have ever eaten, ever) really brought the trip full circle.

Visiting Pininfarina, a household name in sports car design known for servicing Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo, brought my childhood conversations with my father about our shared love for cars to life.  Learning how the owners transformed their experience with designing cars into designing hotels, yachts, headphones, and more was fascinating.  As they went into detail about the relationships between the design teams and marketing teams of both themselves and the companies that were requesting their services reminded me of my draw to marketing, but didn’t give me the same feeling I had in the investment and financial firms.  Some of my friends became entranced at the prospect of interning for such a prestigious house of design; when I didn’t share those feelings, I knew marketing wasn’t for me.  Without this trip and catching snapshots of real world business, I would always be wondering if I enjoyed another aspect of business enough to switch my focus.  I found myself dreaming about the New York Stock Exchange and real estate investments rather than ad campaigns and digital media.

Without the ingenuity of design houses, the risks of financial investment firms, and the technological efficiency of supply chain companies, the world would not go round.  I could not be more thankful for studying abroad through Fisher; without FGL, I would not be applying into a different major or have the confidence to pursue what I want in life.  Meeting over 30 new friends, whom all share similar goals and interests, was a definitive highlight of the trip.  Being able to say goodbye at the Milan airport after approximately 4 hours of sleep, due to an epic final night in Italy, and know the friendships I made will continue inside and outside of the classroom bumped going abroad up to the best decision I made as a freshman.

What Comes Next? Life after Sustainable Business Global Lab

Senior Colleen Magee reflects on how her time in Denmark and The Netherlands continues to shape her life and future career in sustainability.

Returning home from Denmark and The Netherlands, I felt re-inspired to help bring sustainability to the corporate world. Everyone I met on Sustainable Business Global Lab was driven and fun, the business sites were unique and informative, and the guest lectures at other international schools were enlightening. The confidence I felt returning home made me into a go-getter.

So what did I do once I came home?

Went straight to my internship eager to learn and also give back. After two weeks at my internship, I saw an opportunity to present to the company I interned with, IGS Energy, on Sustainability and Sustainable business. Long story short, that’s exactly what I did this summer, applied what I learned abroad, back home in a professional manner. I approached my manager with an idea that I felt would be extremely useful for the company, and immediately was given support. Then I created a presentation about sustainability, presented in 3 separate sessions to a classroom of 18 professionals and received incredible feedback, scoring letters of recommendation from my study abroad professor and my internship manager who highlighted on my project. The inspiration I felt coming home, gave me the courage to follow through with this project, which ended up being an amazing experience that aided my growth as a professional.

One more perk to this Global Lab, the food is awesome…especially the breakfast.

What you can take from my story? Study abroad, but more importantly, go on a trip that will inspire you to be successful in your future career. This trip was highly engaging, and offered cutting edge information that’s not always an available resource on campus. Take it from me that Sustainable Business Global Lab helped me become a much more driven and knowledgeable individual in my field.

Private Thoughts: A Question of Motivation

Alex Rhodes, junior in Public Policy Analysis & Political Science, gains new appreciation for private sector profit maximization in the decision making process during his participation in the 2016 Sustainable Business Global Lab.

As a student studying public policy, I must admit I was quite interested in the implication of public actors in achieving the level of sustainability that I and many others had presumed Denmark and The Netherlands to have. I believed that private actors, or firms, were quite limited in their ability to widen the scope of their analysis of their own functions to incorporate or internalize negative externalities like pollution. I was taught that it is often only the government that can force businesses to consider the environment.

I was entirely mistaken.

Certainly the role of government cannot be overlooked. When we went to Aalborg University, several presenters fused sustainability ideas with application of public policy. We discussed a previous project one of presenters had worked on: a public biking path. We discussed how a cost benefit analysis of the path was created, how the argument for its construction was created and changed throughout the process of its enactment, and we learned how its effectiveness was statistically measured and analyzed. It was one of the most interesting discussion lectures I’ve attended in my undergraduate career.

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SBGL students visit SolaRoad, the first road surface that absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity.

However, I soon realized I hadn’t given enough credit to potential of the private sector. I realized that under very unique circumstances, circumstances like those experienced by Kalundborg Symbiosis Eco-Industrial Park, firms can create radically innovative business models with sustainability and profitability to boot.

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SBGL students on a tour of Kalundborg Symbiosis Eco-Industrial Park, an industrial network where companies collaborate to use each other’s by-products.

The Eco-Industrial park consists of a host of factories and firms that have assembled themselves in one location based off of one principle: their inputs are the same another’s outputs, or vice versa. That means less dumping of waste materials into landfills, less pollution from trucks transporting waste material to its resting place, etc.

But don’t mistake this park as being created to be “green”; I quickly learned after arriving that it was created almost solely for monetary reasons. Having only to ship outputs/inputs of a factory down a street instead of across a city means less cost to the business. These businesses just wanted to add a few more dollars to their bottom line. Surprisingly, similar to American businesses, the most sustainable businesses in the country I once recognized as one of the most eco-friendly countries didn’t prioritize the environment in their business model; they just wanted an easier way to maximize profits.

I truly believe that there must exist a catalyst to speed up the creation of unique circumstances that lead to profitable and relatively environmentally-friendly businesses. Perhaps due to their nature, businesses will always prioritize profits. They may just need to augment how they go about earning their profits. Perhaps the government can help them do this.

What to Expect from 2017 SBGL

In preparation for his 2017 program, Dr. Neil Drobny reflects on his experience directing the 2016 Sustainable Business Global Lab in Denmark and The Netherlands.

The opportunity to develop and lead the Global Lab in sustainability is one of the highlights of my teaching career at Ohio State.  And the decision to concentrate the experience on sustainable business practices in Denmark and The Netherlands was icing on the cake.

I have known for many years that physical, cultural and other factors in Europe have intersected to create conditions ripe for innovation and development of sustainable business practice.  The Global Lab experience was an opportunity to validate and observe what I had come to know only through reading and second hand information.  Similarly it was an opportunity to reinforce with students information that I had presented in the classroom.

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During their time in Rotterdam, 2016 SBGL students met with representatives of Unilever to discuss the implications of sustainability in new product development.

The mix of visits to diverse business and cultural sites worked well together in conveying that sustainable practices are well integrated into everyone’s work and non-work lives.  We learned for example from Unilever, whose world headquarters in Rotterdam we visited, that an early consideration of all new product development is what the sustainability benefits and footprint will be.   If a new product idea does not score well on sustainability metrics, it is not pursued.

In Amsterdam we saw the world’s first (experimental) solar road, a roadway with solar cells built into it.  At this point it carries only bicycles and very lightweight vehicles, but there is every reason to believe that the technology will someday be incorporated into major roadways.  It was like visiting with Thomas Edison in his lab as he worked on the first light bulb

In Copenhagen we saw the benefits of sustainability-driven thinking in city planning.  In the older part of the city building height was limited to five stories and streets were exceptionally wide. With a latitude comparable to southern Alaska, sunshine is limited.  The wide streets and limited building heights enhance the penetration of sunlight in the urban core which is well-established as a key ingredient to overall well-being and productivity.  Today the wide streets help with accommodating bicycles and street cars in addition to automobiles and pedestrians.

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Interior of Pilgrim Fathers’ Church – a church in Rotterdam where passengers of the Speedwell departed for America in 1620.

Seeing the robust construction and results of careful maintenance of a 600-year old church in Rotterdam underscored that in the region things are “built to last” – a key element of sustainability.  Considerable interest was also added by the fact that the church was where the Pilgrims stayed the night before they “shoved off” for their voyage across the Atlantic.

For 2017 we will build on the success of the 2016 program by adding a visit to Lund University in Sweden and working with visit hosts to fine tune visits in coordination with course material in advance of the trip.

Design Like the Danes

In studying the successful sustainability of Denmark and The Netherlands, Robin Iritz got a lesson in design theory with FCOB’s Sustainable Business Global Lab.

A culture of thoughtfulness sits behind every feature in Copenhagen, Denmark. The same can be said for Rotterdam and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. I traveled these cities in May 2016 as one of 25 climate-conscious Buckeyes. We observed innovative design at each carefully planned city corner.

In the US, sustainability is still securing its legitimacy as an essential consideration in our evolving communities. In Northern Europe, it’s always been in the culture. Our group visited seven influential businesses and universities with the goal of understanding how Europe continuously tops the environmental and social well-being charts. Put simply, what makes these guys so good at solving complex public problems?

It’s all in the design.

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2016 SBGL students at Nordic Food Lab testing a grasshopper-based soy sauce alternative.

It seems as though Danish and Dutch cultures are focused on doing things absolutely right. Everything right. Objects, traffic patterns, personal interactions, all of it is designed with a specific purpose and function. Our group understood this at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen where the principles of sensory experience, functionality, and reflection were presented as important features of successful product-service experiences. This kind of design theory can be applied to any product, service, and professional interaction to create a meaningful experience. At Nordic Food Lab, it was applied to distilling grasshoppers into a nutrient rich soy sauce alternative.

We saw design again in the rapidly developing island Amager in Copenhagen where sustainable architecture is absorbing population growth and minimizing the environmental impact of greater population density. We saw design in incredible works of art throughout the many museums we toured in our free time. Design shined from the steel bridges crossing the river and canals in Rotterdam. The bridges are designed to look like the ships passing through Europe’s busiest port city.

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2016 SBGL students tour facilities at Amager Ressource Center (ARC) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

My friends and I spent nights in hotel lobbies trying to figure out how to make sustainability as attractive in America as it was in our host cities. After tossing around ideas of flashy advertisement campaigns and political calls to action, we realized that nobody ever “sold” sustainability to the Scandinavians. Rather, it developed there out of geographical conditions, availability of natural resources, and a culture of collectivism. To instill such values quickly in Americans is a lofty endeavor. However, I think that our constraints are changing as a result of climate change and social and political pressure. The changing environment could catalyze innovative technology and community development in such a way that we develop our own brand of sustainability. What American Sustainability will look like is up to how we understand and adapt to our unique challenges.

Understanding the European’s approach to sustainable design has taught me how to deconstruct a problem and build the solution from its parts. Their responses to ever-changing limitations are at once inspired, effective, and efficient. My time in Europe was eye opening and a total blast. (Did I mention how well designed the nightlife is?) I couldn’t bring the culture of sustainability home but what I bring back to OSU this fall is a new point of view and a cool group of peers who know what it’s like to glimpse into the future.

It’s totally worth it! – Go Abroad

Ending her studies in Japan on the Student Exchange Program, Phuong Tran shares her final thoughts living and studying in Tokyo. The challenges, the struggles, but also the new unforeseen opportunities that these brought and the better experiences she gained as a result.

I have just returned home and have some time to reflect on my experiences in Japan, I realize that I have failed to accomplish about half of the things I had planned. Am I disappointed? Only a little, because I have gained something else, which is even greater.

My student exchange, of courses, did not include only pleasant experiences. The first upsetting thing occurred to me even before I left the U.S. I was told that the dorm was full, and I had to find accommodation somewhere else. Finding another apartment was not that hard, but the total cost was almost doubled. More importantly, it had made it hard to communicate and hang out with other students who were staying at the dorm. There were times when I could not go to some events because the time and location were not convenient for me. I really wished that I had been accepted into the dorm so that I could have built a stronger bond with other international students.

My second disappointment was about school. When I did my interview for the program, the interviewer asked me what I would do if I could not take all the classes I had planned to take. I said I had another list of classes to substitute. However, that was easier being said that done. During the school orientation, I was kind of panic when being told I could not sign up for the two most-looking-forwarded-to classes, Business Communicating and Business Project, because of the schedule conflicts, my early-return request, and the class’s capacity. I pulled out my substitute list, but again, most of them could not fit into my schedule or not being offered this semester. I ended up taking two random business courses in order to fulfill the credit requirement.

With all those being said, I felt clueless and frustrated in the beginning of the program. Now that I think back, my problem was that I got fixated on a few objectives. Actually, after school started I soon realized I should not have been too worried. I did not have to look hard, new opportunities to learn and adventure came to me one after another. And all of these unforeseen invitations were what made my exchange’s experiences so wonderful.

As I mentioned earlier, I failed to get into my preferred business courses and thought that I could not be able to learn the “business culture” anywhere else. Fortunately, the other courses I got into also emphasized on group work and interactions between cultures. I appreciated that my professors assigned students into groups that had both international and Japanese students. We could not choose to work only with friends, but also new people, especially the ones from completely different cultures. Also, I was able to got a part-time job at school, which taught me the basic Japanese business etiquettes. Furthermore, there were many career events offered to international students either on or off campus. My most favorite one was the visit to Oak Lawn Marketing’s office, during which I could see an actual workplace and even participate in creating the marketing plan for a new product.

My Japanese teacher and classmate. We came from all around the world (France, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, America, etc)
My Japanese teacher and classmates. We came from all around the world (France, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, America, etc)

I had to admit that sometimes I felt lonely for staying in an apartment apart from others. However, I have met people whom I want to befriend for life. Also, the International Office at Rikkyo did a wonderful job on keeping us busy. They offered us many opportunities to experience tea ceremony, Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), Christmas parties, city tours, etc. After experiencing all of these exciting activities together, it was hard not becoming friends. When I first came to Japan, it took me a long time to get to my apartment carrying a big suitcase by myself, but when I left, my new friends helped me carry my luggage, which had been doubled in size, up to the gate. Just thinking of that made me feel so happy.

A trip to Asakusa with other international students. (The trip was organized by Rikkyo's COBBY group)
A trip to Asakusa with other international students. (The trip was organized by Rikkyo’s COBBY group)

Beside that, staying in an apartment has not only taught me many things about living in Japan but also helped me improve my language skills. In fact, except at school, I only communicated with people in Japanese. If I had stayed at the dorm, there should have been someone I could ask for help, but living alone, I had to deal with all issues by myself. Actually, Rikkyo’s International Office provided many resources to support my life there. However, they were not always available and it took time to arrange a Japanese student to assist me. Thus, I had to go to the city office, bank, etc. by myself to complete all necessary paperwork. My thought was “Lets go see if I can handle this. If I can’t get things done, then I will ask for help later.” I was so worried at first but then I gained more and more confidence in using Japanese. Also, never once I felt I was treated unfairly for not speaking Japanese well. Japanese people are very very friendly and helpful, I can assure you that!

I still think having a clear objective for going abroad is a good thing, but now I believe that keeping an adventurous spirit and being open-minded is more important. In the end, we cannot predict our days in a foreign environment as accurate as when we are home. No need to be obsessed with the plan. My stay in Japan has taught me so, and now I appreciate all the experiences I had over in Japan, even for the unpleasant ones. If I had to talk about the study aboard experiences in only a few words, I would say, “It’s totally worth it.”

About the Author: Phuong Tran, Senior, Accounting and Japanese. Student Exchange Program- Japan.

Professional Interactions in Manchester

With the fortunate opportunity Kevin McGann had meeting with business professionals at Manchester on the Student Exchange Program, he shares his observation on how business is different in England compared to the U.S.

While living in Manchester, I have had the opportunity to further understand the English business culture.  Beyond learning about business practices in my classes, I have had the opportunity to network with English business professionals.  My first chance came when I attended a banquet for North American students this past October.  I arrived with other American exchange students who I had met during my first month in Manchester.  None of us knew what to expect before attending the event, and only knew that food would be provided.  When we arrived, we started conversing with other exchange students from all over the U.S. and Canada.  We talked about how we had been enjoying our time in Manchester so far, but were still getting used to the culture.  All of us missed home to a small extent, but were eager to make travel plans.  It was refreshing to find that a lot of the other American exchange students felt the same way I did after being away for a month.

During this banquet, I was able to speak with a couple of University of Manchester recruiters who gave me some insight into English business culture.  A couple of other American exchange students and I started asking them basic questions about restaurants and other attractions in Manchester.  After this basic small talk about things to do in Manchester, one of the recruiters talked about his business trips to America, and about the differences that he sees in the two cultures.  He mentioned that business professionals in England are more reserved than those in America.  He found the young professionals in America to be more outgoing and more likely to strike up a conversation with someone they don’t know.  I think this observation extends beyond business people and is an accurate distinction between the English and Americans in general.  Despite this difference, he mentioned that he believes that business is conducted in a similar fashion in both countries.

I was also able to speak with one of the generous benefactors who makes exchange at the University of Manchester possible.  I did not know this when I had first approached her and was surprised to find out that she wasn’t a professor.  Speaking with her gave me insight into her reasons for donating to the exchange program specifically.  One of the main reasons that she gave was that she believed that global experiences drastically enhance a student’s education.  She came across as very genuine and interested in hearing about my reasons for choosing to study in Manchester.  Although we only spoke briefly, I am glad that I was able to meet one of the people in Manchester who has allowed me to have the best three months of my life.

My business classes provided insight into how important America is to international business.  I realized this when every single one of my business professors mentioned the U.S. during lecture in a positive business context.  What I concluded from this is that the U.S is an extremely powerful force in the business world.  This could be due to the fact that there are many American corporations are operating abroad.  England is not nearly as relevant in my Fisher classes, but it is difficult to say whether this is due to a lack of large companies in England or a more U.S. focused curriculum.  One way in which I was able to see how business is conducted in England is through shopping. Every grocery store that I shopped at charged people for grocery bags.  This encouraged people to bring their own.  Although this is minor, I think that it demonstrates the environmental awareness in England’s business community.  Another small difference that I noticed was that British stores are much smaller.  There are less one stop shop places in England, which made weekly grocery shopping more challenging.

Business Exposure in Japan at the OLM DAY 2015 Event

Phuong Tran shares her experience, attending the OLMDay2015 event in Tokyo, while she studies in Japan on the Student Exchange Program. She expanded professional networks and got insight of Japanese business, all thanks to being awarded one of Japans’ Bridging Scholarships.

I considered myself lucky for being one of the recipients of the Bridging Scholarships, which was funded by various private foundations and major U.S. corporations. The best thing about receiving this scholarship was that I received not only financial aids but also opportunities to attend professional events during my time in Japan. Back in December 2015, I was invited to participate in the OLMDAY2015 event at Oak Lawn Marketing’s office in Toranomon, Tokyo. The OLMDay2015 event was sponsored by Oak Lawn Marketing Inc., and offered to American students who received an OLM scholarship through the United States-Japan Bridging Foundation for studying in Japan.

During the event, me and three other students were given an introduction presentation on the company’s background and business, a tour around their office, and had hand-on experience through a marketing workshop, and then a meeting with President Hill.

I was really thankful for this opportunity because this was my first time to visit a Japanese company and talk to the employees who were actually working there. I also appreciated the fact that some of the staffs were from other countries, so they were able to give me an insight on what kind of jobs that foreigners (like myself) could do in Japan, and how they fit in the company’s culture.

The marketing workshop was very fun and exciting. After being introduced to the company’s marketing philosophy “Before After After,” we were divided into groups to create a marketing plan for a “product that is not available on the Japanese market yet” under the guidance of the OLM staffs. We had only about 20 minutes to prepare, which made me very nervous, but the OLM staffs were very friendly and helpful. Everyone in the team had a chance to express our ideas and was willing to do that. We collaborated very well even though we did not know each other before.  Then we presented our plan to the marketing director and received feedback from him.

The experience that had the most impact on me was the meeting with Mr. Hill, a very passionate businessman from America. I asked him about the company’s participation in the post-disaster recovery because the incident was one of many things that had ignited my interest in Japan. Back in 2011, I watched news about the situation in Japan and was impressed on how Japanese citizens got together in order to overcome the disaster. However, I was impressed at how the president addressed the issue from the viewpoint of a businessman. According to him, one of OLM’s significant contributions in reviving the economy in the area was continuing their business and creating jobs. I agreed with Mr. Hill that businesses should aim for profit even in such situation, and by doing that they could benefit the whole community.

The visit was very helpful for me as well as other students since we were all interested in working in Japan in the future. The staff was very friendly and answered all of our concerns about working in Japan, such as over-time work and how to communicate with other Japanese co-workers. From my observation, Oak Lawn had a diverse and American-like culture, especially in their Sales and Marketing branches, which was understandable since the company was founded and directed by an American. I sometimes felt concerned about whether or not I could actually work in a Japanese company, but after this visit, I felt like I had an idea about what to look for in a company in the future.

On the other hand, I feel that we were busy with many things to do in such a short amount of time. I wish we had more time to sit down and have conversations with the OLM staffs. Nevertheless, OLMDAY2015 was a wonderful experience, and I appreciated the company for providing me this opportunity to learn about business in Japan.

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OLM’s office and my team during the marketing workshop.

The event was also reported on the company’s website here.

About the Author: Phuong Tran, Senior, Accounting and Japanese. Student Exchange Program- Japan.

Business So Casual

Observe the difference in the business world between the U.S. and Denmark as Kelley Jiang talks about some of the business related events and etiquettes that she have experienced during her Student Exchange Program at Copenhagen Business School- Denmark in Autumn 2015.

This may be a little bit of a continuation off my other post about what the education system is like in Denmark since Copenhagen Business School is indeed a business school, but this post will focus more on the business world in Denmark and what my reactions were after attending some networking and workshop events here.

Because most of us have grown up living the majority of our lives in America we are more familiar with how business is done in the U.S. Business news is centered around milestones, progress, and mishaps that are relevant to America. There is a business “world” in America, that has standards of how to give a good presentation, how to dress business casual verses business professional, etiquette for interviews and business meetings, or how to give an effective elevator pitch. Although I have learned in the classroom that globalization is slowly universalizing the world, especially when it comes to business, after spending just a couple of months in Copenhagen, Denmark I have come across some surprising differences between the business “world” here and the business “world” in America. These differences lead me to conclude that globalization still has some work to do.

The differences I have noticed in how business is conducted in Copenhagen are found in many areas of business including giving a sales pitch, case study competitions, and social media presence.

But one of the major, overarching differences I want to first address before going into the other differences I have just listed is an extension of one of the major, overarching differences I described in my previous post about the educational system in Copenhagen: casualness. The casualness and open atmosphere in the classroom extend into the way business professionals present themselves and their companies to potential future employees or us CBS students. I have grown up with the image of a man in a three-piece suit carrying a briefcase and acting/speaking in an extremely formal manner imprinted into what I perceive to be a typical businessman. I see it in shows, movies, my parents, and the people that surround me in every day life back home. I see men and women dressed like this on my way to school as they are on their way to work and I watched for 18 years as my dad dressed in a button up and tie every day for work. At first, when I noticed there were significantly fewer people dressed like this in Copenhagen, I thought that the business world was just smaller in Copenhagen—maybe this city is not as business orientated as the cities I have lived in in the past. But I soon realized that these “business people” were everywhere but they just didn’t dress up every day. I actually found that there were more students at CBS who would dress in, in my opinion, nice business clothes than if you were to wander around the city center during the average week day.

Also, after attending a start-up pitch presentation, I was again astonished at the level of casualness that was exhibited during the networking event. The point of this event was for start-up companies to promote their company and recruit students to complete an internship with them. First, we had to reserve seats in the auditorium to ensure that there would be enough seats for everyone. But instead of checking for your ticket upon entrance, the organizers merely left the doors to the auditorium open for whoever would like to come. The auditorium did not overflow like I expected it would because of the lack of ticket checking. It was like there was a strongly valued honor system in place. Also, there was no dress code for the presenters and especially no dress code for the students attending the event.

After the presentations began I was again surprised that each person was only given three minutes to present their company and they were timed down to the second! This formality stood out like a sore thumb among all the casual vibes I had been getting right when I walked through those un-manned auditorium doors. But back to the topic of being casual, the presenters had all different types of presentations: ranging from the traditional PowerPoint presentation to just a verbal presentation. I found it strange how each presenter chose to use his/her precious three minutes and startling at how “start-up” some of the companies were—one had not even been successfully launched yet! One company spent two minutes of their time showing a promo video for their company which left little time to talk about what type of opportunities there were at their company for us while another dressed up in a costume to show how much fun their company has while another even showed an extremely explicit photo of a previous intern also in order to show the “fun” factor of working for their company. I left the event feeling extremely confused and still am today when I reflect back on the experience, because I could not figure out if I had just attended an extremely uniquely set up for a start-up pitch session or Denmark’s structure of recruiting interns just highly contrasted what I have been used to in the US.

My friends and I also participated in a case competition run by an organization at CBS called My Marketing Lab. The organization teamed with the famous Danish beer company, Carlsberg, to put together a marketing problem for students to solve. I began the competition thinking that we had a real shot at winning because of the diversity represented among our group: two Americans, an Australian, and a Canadian that studies in Scotland. But after reflecting back on the experience it seems that we tackled the marketing problem unconsciously through the lens of our own culture. It was an easy mistake considering our own culture and people have been all that we have known until now. Our case was not presented to a panel of judges but submitted simply via PowerPoint, which was totally foreign and made no sense to me. In previous case competitions, I have always been asked to prepare a presentation to an audience with a question and answer panel to follow. I found it extremely hard to communicate our message the way we wanted through just a submission of a PowerPoint presentation.

Last, from being on the social media and marketing committee for an organization at CBS called CBS Coffee I am able to learn more about the culture and marketing opportunities in the Danish market. My first and most important lesson was that Twitter is not relevant here, but instead everything revolves around Facebook. As a person who checks her Twitter feed at least twice as much as Facebook, this was jaw-dropping news. Also, the market for Instagram has recently begun to grow, which was surprising to me as well, because I would not consider Instagram a new social media platform in America.

In conclusion, I realize that although I have learned a lot about the professional world in Copenhagen, I can’t solidify what I have learned just yet because my experiences here have only been dipping my toes in the waters. I can’t think that all start-up pitches are like the ones that I heard in that one event and I can’t expect every case competition set up to be similar to the one that I participated in. Making the generalization would be a mistake and most likely unreflective of Copenhagen as a whole.

But even though I cannot make generalizations based off my experiences so far, it is evident to me that there are definitely major differences between Danish business and American business even with all the globalization in the world.

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About the Author: Kelley Jiang, Junior, Marketing, Student Exchange Program- Denmark

Please Hire Me! – The Career Fair Struggle

Senior year Student Exchange participant, Jayna Wolfe, jumps into an Italian Career Fair to gain a better understanding of what the career competition is like in Italy at one of Europe’s top business schools, Bocconi University.

This past week I had the unique opportunity to attend the Bocconi & Jobs Career Fair Event that is hosted by Bocconi University once every semester. Excited for the incredibly relevant opportunity to see for myself what an Italian career fair might be like I dug the high heel shoes I have been neglecting and the fancy blazer out from the back of my closet.

The event runs from 10AM-5PM and is an exclusive occasion during which major Italian and international employers meet with students, graduates, and Specialized Master holders from the University. About 90 companies attended this year’s event and 40 of those companies were featured in 30 minute presentations during which recruiters described their company profile, organization, available internship and placement opportunities, and the selection processes. Most of the presentations were offered in English and some in Italian, another reminder of how lucky we are that English is the “international language.” A majority of the companies who attend the career fair require their employees to have sufficient proficiency in the English language. I was fortunate to have availability in my schedule to sit in on three of the company presentations- KIKO Milano, Procter & Gamble, and BlackRock, Inc.

KIKO Milano is a leading Italian cosmetics retailer currently operating in 12 markets across the world. KIKO is one of Antonio Percassi’s mono-brand retailers and currently operates over 700 stores worldwide. After its foundation in 1997 and almost a decade of brand establishment, KIKO opened its first retail store in Italy in 2005. The KIKO representatives began the information session by focusing on the brand and growth of the company over the last decade. The second half of the session was devoted to providing information about corporate job opportunities at KIKO’s headquarters in Bergamo, a city about 40 kilometers northeast of Milan. As a company focused on expanding their global presence and constantly looking for other growth opportunities, KIKO recruits in two main directions, retail and corporate staffing. I found it interesting that despite their rapid expansion there are only about 350 employees at the corporate headquarters in Bergamo, a promising sign for Bocconi students interested in career opportunities with KIKO Milano.

Overall, it was great to hear about an Italian company and the types of candidates the company is seeking. KIKO requires an initial interview, meeting with the line director of the position you are interested in, online assessment, and an English test. English fluency is a requirement in all departments except accounting. The ideal candidate is dynamic, with a great attitude and fashion sense, and an international mindset. Definitely a great opportunity for someone looking to work in an industry heavily involved with international markets.

I was particularly excited to hear the Proctor & Gamble presentation because the company has such a strong presence on OSU’s campus and I have previously had the opportunity to participate in P&G information sessions with some of the student organizations I am involved with. The four recruiters that presented during the P&G session based the thirty minutes around one central question “Are you ready to be the next P&G top manager?” After touching on why P&G is the place to be and identifying their ideal candidate the “Top Manager” event was explained to the group. Basically a fast track to growth opportunities, the “Top Manager” event and “P&G Group Case Competition” give students the chance to show off their talents and improve the likelihood of earning a job offer. Very interesting and reminiscent of case competitions at Ohio State.

BlackRock, Inc. was one of the final presentations of the day and I wanted to give myself a chance to hear what a financial company had to say, as finance is something I’m newly exposed to in my Corporate Finance course this semester. BlackRock is a multinational investment management corporation based in New York City and the company is the world’s largest asset manager. The presenter was fabulously British and instead of speaking specifically about BlackRock, used her time as a skills session on interviews and assessment centers. The focus was on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing and CV’s (AKA resumes, for some reason all of Europe and the UK uses this term) and how to nail an interview. The moral of my 30 minutes- Prep yourself before you wreck yourself.

General Observations About the Career Fair:

  • The students were not dressed in “business professional” (surprising for a university of primarily business students and Europe’s top business school). Recruiters at the career fair were dressed in their normal professional attire, but it seemed to me that only a handful of the students who might have been interviewing were truly dressed in suits. I believe this might have something to do with the culture and the nature of professionalism required at the Bocconi career fair. Maybe these students not dressed up were simply interested in preparing themselves for future opportunities rather than seriously dropping off resumes and hoping for interviews.
  • At Fisher you would not be permitted to enter in jeans and a hoody carrying your backpack.
  • Company information sessions took place during the career fair
  • Usually these take place as independent events organized by career services, or are hosted by Fisher student organizations during weekly meetings
  • Students as well as alumni are permitted to attend the career fair up to 3 years after graduating from Bocconi
  • Fisher students must be enrolled to attend the career fair
  • Almost as if hosting an on-campus event some of the companies were handing out goody bags of sample items
  • I’ve never received more than a fancy pen with the company’s name on it from a career fair at Fisher (maybe I just haven’t talked to the right people)

Overall, I believe the career fair was fairly similar to those I have attended at Ohio State. It was definitely smaller in scale, but similar in the way that students were approaching stands of companies they were interested in with hopes of dropping resumes with the recruiters. The approach to recruiting also seems to be similar with interviews, resumes, and general communication between recruiters and students. However, in general the opportunities presented at the career fair span far beyond the borders of Italy. Students at a Bocconi career fair are much more likely to encounter job offers in other parts of Europe and the UK depending on the companies they approach. Although companies that recruit in the U.S. offer some opportunities abroad they do not typically start new employees at international locations (at least from my experience). This is definitely the result of the way in which European countries operate as a whole with a standardized currency and similar employment laws.

Much like back home, students at Bocconi are constantly looking for ways to get ahead in their future business careers. Despite the competitive environment I was surprised that more of my peers in the exchange program were not determined to suit up, attend the company presentations, and get face-time with international recruiters. I think it is easy to get caught up in the allure of traveling while you are an exchange student, and although I have loved every second of exploring new places with my friends, I think it is also important to remember why we are here. We are here because we are competitive business students who have the desire to explore the world in which we live beyond the borders of our home country. We are here because we had the drive and motivation to apply for a competitive program that we believe will open the doors to opportunities beyond an undergraduate degree. I am absolutely proud and blessed to be here.

As a fourth year student planning to graduate in the spring I am beginning to struggle with the idea that I will be making a decision about full-time employment in the coming months. On one side of the spectrum there are people who tell you to work hard, always keep your eye out for the next opportunity, and never be afraid to try new things. On the other side there is encouragement to relax, after all, you’ll only ever be 21 in Europe with the world at your fingertips once. Ohio State and Fisher College of Business have taught me to work hard, always. I am not the type of person who is pleased with doing average, and can sometimes be too critical of myself. I am excited to return to OSU and figure out what my next steps after graduation will be, but for now I think the best advice I can give myself, or anyone else who might be in a similar situation would be- use this precious time to make memories and have experiences that will build you up when you sit down to write a cover letter, perfect your resume, and prepare for an interview. Not everyone is ok with leaving their home country for 4 months, and not everyone will get the chance– recognize the opportunities you have here and now and take advantage of them.

Until next time!

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About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management. Student Exchange Program- Italy.