Kayla Hilton is wrapping up her junior year in the NC State Poole College of Management, but you would not have seen her in any of the college’s classrooms this year nor next year. That’s because she is completing the last two years of her bachelor of business administration degree requirements at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) in Piacenza, Italy.
Hilton is one of a growing number of Poole College business students participating in the International Business Dual Degree (IBDD) program, of which UCSC and Poole College are both partners, along with 10 additional international universities that are part of the International Partnership of Business Schools (IPBS) and are located in nine different countries.
Students in this program, like Hilton, complete the first two years of their bachelor’s degree at their home university, and the final two years at one of the other IPBS schools. Deans and academic directors of the partner schools work together to assure that participating students are taking courses that count toward their degree requirements at both their home university and the international school. When they complete the program, the students will have completed two internships totaling up to nine months work experience, will be bi-lingual, and will earn two degrees, one from each university.
Hilton’s journey to Italy began with an information session announcement that she noticed during her freshman orientation.
“I passed a sign that read ‘Dual Degree Program in International Business. 2 degrees, 2 countries, 4 years. I was extremely intrigued by the message, so I sat down during the information session and at the end, I signed up for the program,” she wrote in response to an email interview with Poole College communications.
Hilton studied Spanish throughout high school, which sparked her desire to study abroad. “I longed for an abroad experience that was a little more than a semester and that would challenge me academically and would push me to try things I have never done before.”
As part of the program at UCSC, Hilton is taking classes such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Work and Tax Law, Human Resource Management, Economic Policy, Supply Chain Management, and Business Strategies.
“One of the biggest challenges I encountered was dealing with the culture shock. It was my first time ever out of the country and no amount of reading, preparing or imagining could have prepared me for the immediate and intense immersion into small-city Italian life,” she said.
Over time Hilton’s experience became easier as she adapted to the local culture. “There are countless things to enjoy in this program, from meeting many new people and making life-long friends, to truly appreciating the Italian style of living first-hand,” she said.
After completing the IBDD program she hopes to work in marketing and public relations campaigns for a company in the luxury automotive industry.
“I believe this program will help me achieve that goal as it has helped mold me into a young professional with almost a year of professional experience, two languages, and the drive to adapt and succeed in unique challenges in new environments.” she said. “[T]his program will give me an advantage against my peers academically by merit and by developing skills that companies seek out in potential employees.”
Her advice for any students who are considering applying for the program is simply, “Do it.”
“It’s an intimidating program at first, but it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I believe it has been so worth it to come to Italy and experience it like very few other students are able to. I have grown as a person both academically and emotionally and now that I have done it, I feel as though I can accomplish anything I set my mind to,” Hilton said.