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Summer Abroad Brings Global Perspective to Coursework

Waterfront scene in Adelaide, Australia, by Tom Armstrong, summer '18 Australia-Entrepreneurship program student participant Play Video
Waterfront scene in Adelaide, Australia, by Tom Armstrong, summer '18 Australia-Entrepreneurship program student participant

Summer school is a great way to earn college credits. Summer school abroad lets you do that and also grow personally and culturally. Poole College’s summer study abroad programs are designed to assure participating students stay on track for graduation while gaining a hands-on global perspective through their coursework.

Poole College offers seven summer study abroad programs delivered at partner business schools in Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

New Experience: Exploring Australia’s Entrepreneurial Environment

Visiting with the Kangaroos
Visiting with the kangaroos

Poole College’s newest summer abroad program took 14 students to Adelaide, Australia, in the summer of 2018.

Travels throughout the region brought them up close to some of the region’s wildlife and natural wonders – in Adelaide, home to the University of Adelaide where their program was based – and beyond. Their focus, though, was on entrepreneurship and business opportunity analysis in Adelaide.

“The opportunity to be exposed to and embedded in a new culture and ecosystem is extremely valuable for all students; even more so for entrepreneurs,” said Lewis Sheats, associate professor of practice at Poole College, assistant vice provost for entrepreneurship at NC State and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. He led this year’s inaugural entrepreneurship program in Australia, along with Tim Michaelis, assistant research professor. Both are in Poole College’s Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“Adelaide was a great location for us to launch our entrepreneurship study abroad program and to implement the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinical Model, engaging students in experiential learning with entrepreneurial companies based in Adelaide,” Sheats said.

“It is a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and the University of Adelaide was a great partner, connecting us to key players in entrepreneurship that enabled our students to experience opportunity creation first-hand in a new environment, and to compare similarities and differences with their home surroundings,” he said.

Learning from Local Entrepreneurs

Barossa Valley wine country. Photo by Tom Armstrong, student participant
Barossa Valley wine country. Photo credit: Barossa Valley Day Tours

The summer schedule included excursions to Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island, Sydney, and The Cleland Wildlife Park, among other sites.

Conversations with entrepreneurs in those regions – who have created companies in the wine, honey, beer, eucalyptus, tourism and software industries – provided the students a better understanding of the history and culture of new venture creation, Sheats said. ‘It was a fantastic learning experience for everyone involved.”

Michael Piccola, a Poole College senior in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship, was one of the inaugural Australia program participants. Having completed the entrepreneurship courses required for his concentration at Poole College, he said he wanted a study abroad experience.

The Australia option was a good fit: a chance to continue building on the good relationship he had with the entrepreneurship faculty at Poole College, small class sizes, and a visit to Australia. The experience lived up to his expectations, Piccola said. He shared two things he learned about entrepreneurship, the region, and himself, summarized below.

About Entrepreneurship

There are vast variances in motivation and the universal techniques implemented globally.

  • “A lot of the people we met were starting companies to both solve problems in their environment and to create employment for themselves. Very few of them had aspirations of becoming billion dollar companies; they wanted to improve their environment and create careers at the same time,” Piccola said.
  • “The techniques used were congruent with those taught at NC State, validating and affirming that the NC State Entrepreneurship program is one of the best in the world.”

About the Region

Climbing rock formations on Kangaroo Island
Rocks at Kangaroo Island

The Australian environment varies greatly, offering a unique opportunity to explore and experience a wide range of differences among the people, climates, and activities.

Piccola said he saw comparisons in the regions visited with U.S. regions, including between Sydney and San Francisco, and between Cairns and Miami or Hawaii. He also notes that “they have an incredible wine region in southern Australia, creating very high caliber wine.”

About Himself

  • “My ability to adapt. I was worried about being in a foreign country for almost two months, but I very quickly adapted to the accent, the food, and the customs,” Piccola said.
  • “My love of people. While the food was phenomenal and the activities were incredible, the people I met were by far my favorite part of the trip. I met some incredible Australians as well as some lifelong friends from NC State,” he said.

Piccola commends those who planned the Australian Entrepreneurship program for creating “an experience that was so impactful on me and so many others. I would highly recommend this program to any student, especially those in the business school.

“If I had my way, studying abroad would be a requirement. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my six weeks in Australia impacted me as much as my previous years at NC State,” he said.

Note: Photos from the Australia summer program (excluding the Barossa Valley photo) were taken by summer program participant Tom Armstrong. View additional photos from his collection here.

Feedback from Other Summer Program Participants

Kaylee McBride | Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Amy McBride visiting sites in China
Kaylee McBride visiting sites in China

McBride said she became interested in studying abroad during her freshman year at NC State. She had traveled internationally in the past but not in conjunction with academic studies.

“I wanted to experience a new learning environment, but a semester program didn’t seem feasible for my personal situation,” she said.

“I was also overwhelmed by the idea of trying to figure out what courses (from another college) would count for my degree at NC State). I chose to study abroad through Poole College because their program’s courses met my degree requirements and they offered summer programs that were the perfect alternative to a semester abroad,” she said.

McBride said she chose the summer program in Shanghai, China “because I was not sure if I would ever have the opportunity to travel there again, especially with the help and support of an office like Poole Global.  Ms. Frost and the Poole Global office made the complicated process of getting a visa and preparing for the trip so easy.”

While in Shangai, McBride studied human resources management, supply chain and operations, and doing business in China courses. “It was very interesting to learn about these topics from a Chinese business perspective,” she said.

McBride was in class with about 20 other NC State students who had enrolled through the Poole College program. “Four of those were international students that attend NC State and three of those were international students from China,” she said. “They were so kind and helpful to the rest of us, translating Mandarin at restaurants and explaining the Chinese way of life while we were there.”

Surprises and Delights

“I was surprised by the community that was developed among those in our group,” McBride said. The small class size led to more discussion and participation. “I also studied more in groups, whereas back home I tend to work alone. And, the corporate visits were beneficial to learning because they gave us first-hand experience about the material and helped us visualize what we were learning in the classroom,” she said.

Beyond the classroom, “Everything was an adventure,” she said, “because I had no idea what I was doing, and that made the experience even more fun and exciting. The language barrier was frustrating but it made me more resourceful and reinforced that I should try to plan ahead, but remain flexible.

“One of the most challenging things was adjusting to public transportation and taking taxis. The taxi drivers rarely spoke English, so I had to show them the address in Chinese and hope for the best. They would usually drop us off close to the destination, but we had to wander around to find the exact location. Once I would find my destination, I would always feel such a sense of accomplishment and relief,” she said.

Now that she’s back at Poole College, McBride said that she has decided “to complete NC State’s Global Perspectives Certificate and join Poole College’s Global Corps as a way to broaden my international perspective and learning. I am also now open to traveling and/or working internationally in my future career.”

Her advice for other students considering study abroad: “Go for it! You won’t regret it. Not only does studying abroad make you more competitive for future jobs and grad school, but the experience also challenges you to grow as a student and as an individual,” McBride said.

Rebecca Susko, Alexander Hamilton Scholar | London, England

Rebecca Susko at the London Bridge
Rebecca Susko at the London Bridge

Susko completed the three-week International Finance Program in England, led by Mark Walker, Poole College professor of finance.

She is in the dual-degree Hamilton Scholars Program, pursuing a bachelor’s in business administration with finance concentration and international studies with a concentration in global relations. Her goal: a career in international finance.

“I was extremely excited to learn what business is like in a foreign country as well as about international finance,” she said. The experience provided a broader perspective on international career opportunities, both in the states and abroad.

Experiencing London’s Past and History In-the-Making

Beyond the classroom, Susko and her 13 classmates visited sites in London and beyond. “I was able to watch Meghan and Harry get married, travel to Barcelona, walk through Westminster and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre” and travel throughout the city and countryside.

A glimpse of the Royal Wedding Carriage Procession, following the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018

“I am fascinated by the Royal Family and it was an incredible experience to be there for the Royal Wedding,” she said. After the wedding, Susko and five of her classmates were standing on Long Walk, a road that was the last part of the newlyweds’ carriage procession from St George’s Chapel through Windsor town, and then back to Windsor Castle.

During the three-week London program, the students completed two courses: BUS 426: International Finance and M380: Doing Business Globally: London. “Both classes were phenomenal,” Susko said. “We had the opportunity to tour businesses and get a true sense of the British business world through M380 and coursework in BUS 426. Professor Walker “ensured that we all truly understood the material,” she said.

Guest speakers provided insight about what is happening in London, including in its financial district and with Brexit. “I was surprised by my level of understanding the complicated topics of international finance and the financial, social, and political impact of Brexit,” she said, crediting the speakers with providing insight that complemented classroom learning.

Value Gained

Now that she’s back at NC State, Susko said, “I think my time abroad really opened my eyes to the world outside of the United States. It helped me not only to get out of my comfort zone but also to create better study habits. I learned how to create more of a learning and experience balance, along with how to manage my time. Before this experience I had an interest in global financial markets. Now I know it is a path I want to pursue in my career.”

Her suggestion to other students who are considering study abroad: “Do not hesitate! I know everyone talks about how wonderful study abroad is, but it truly is. Studying abroad provides you with the unique experience of being impacted by the culture of the country you study in. You not only get to learn in a classroom but also from the world that surrounds you. By letting yourself get out of your comfort zone and travel, you can really obtain a new perspective and bring that back home and apply it to your life.”

Note: This course option will be offered in France in 2019.