The largest ever cohort of UNSW Business School students have recently returned from a unique study tour in India with a new understanding of international business and workplace skills as part of the UNSW Global Business Practicum.
The scheme, which is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the New Colombo Plan, aims to increase the industry and people-to-people links between Australia and Asia.
UNSW Business School’s Associate Dean, International and External Relations, Richard Dunford said: “We want students to leave UNSW Business School with a portfolio that they can show potential employers. It needs to be more than just good grades – good grades are obviously an attraction but we want our students to pick up two more things: contact with employers and international experience.
“Where the global business practicum to Mumbai has been so important to us is that it allows students to work on a project for a large organisation and at the same time learn to cope with the challenges and opportunities involved in living in another country.”
TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) is among the many companies involved in hosting UNSW Business School students for the international practicum - providing live projects that the students are required to undertake.
Neville Roach, who is the chair of TCS Corporate Social Responsibility Committee in Australia and New Zealand, said programs like this are important for companies.
“We now have offices in 46 countries but our origins are in Asia, specifically India. TCS want to give Australian students global opportunities whilst building the talent pool locally, and the New Colombo Plan (NCP) gives us a very good opportunity to do that.”
“The NCP provides cross-cultural, immersive business experiences to students. It’s Australia going to Asia and saying make our young people Asia-savvy – it’s a smart idea.
“India for example, has a variety of languages, religions, cultures, food, dress and one of the largest student bodies in the world – understanding diversity and immersing yourself in all aspect of another culture is a unique and beneficial personal experience and through the New Colombo Plan they get that.”
The experience of the UNSW Global Business Practicum can also have life-changing effects on students who attend.
Ben Smagarinsky, who is an Economics and Commerce student at UNSW Business School, is now working for TCS as a Corporate Affairs Assistant Advisor, having participated in the practicum previously. His job requires him to ensure that the external reputation of TCS is being upheld and, day to day, deals with various levels of government discussing the objectives of TCS in Sydney as well as in Australia.
“This was one of the best choices I ever made. The experience and the connections I made thereafter the program finished will benefit me throughout my career,” Mr Smagarinsky said.
“Gaining experience, while travelling amongst a group of other students is just an amazing thing – I would recommend it to anybody who asks about it.”
“Having international experience is invaluable for whatever field you’re going into. Learning to deal with different cultures, different environments and different ways of working is invaluable. If you’re having issues and troubles you have that support network of a group who are going through the same experiences as you.”
The international practicum is designed to expose students to the cultural and economic landscape of some of the fastest developing regions. It offers programs in India, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong.
Fourth-year business student Rakulan Arulmurugan, as part of the international practicum, worked on a project for TCS Human Resources in India.
The practicum was the main reason for selecting UNSW Sydney: “I chose UNSW Business School because of the opportunities it provides the students. The experience of going to Mumbai is completely unique. The skills I learnt in the classroom, such as case studies and problem-solving were really important. As a result, everything I did in India can be transferred into going into the workforce right now. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be able to work overseas whilst doing your undergraduate degree is a unique opportunity that isn’t offered everywhere, so just give it a go and give it your best.”
The scheme also opens doors to long-term relationships, said Richard Dunford: “Starting with a Global Business Practicum introduces both parties to each other and opens up the opportunity for either party to consider extending the relationship in new directions, for example, participation in some research of joint interest. So, whilst the business practicum is of value of itself, the opportunity for it to open up other forms of engagement between the two parties is certainly very attractive.”
The next Global Business Practicum cohort will leave for Hong Kong in November.