February 21, 2024

Leading Business

Business in Evolution

4 International Business Experiences That Will Advance Your Career

7 min read

These four international business experiences you could gain at business school will help grow your global mindset, network, and ultimately advance your career

As businesses leverage opportunities to expand, many top firms have offices in all corners of the world and are on the lookout for talent who can adapt to new environments, have a global business perspective, and strong leadership capabilities. 

According to GMAC, 81% of employers believe cross-cultural competence is one of the most important skills of the future. 

If you’re striving to launch an international business career, experiences such as studying abroad, solving business cases with global companies, or learning about new cultures will set your resume apart. 

Here are four international business experiences to tap into at business school. 


1. Choosing a program with an international business focus

Choosing a business degree with an international focus as part of its curriculum will help you to understand opportunities in global markets, be aware of how global economic and political situations may impact business and develop cultural sensitivity. 

The Master in International Management at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business is offered in association with CEMS—an alliance of some of the world’s leading business schools and companies. The program focuses on emphasizing a distinctly local perspective of business with global relevance. 

Courses such as Global Strategy and Global Leadership explore how companies operate in different world markets and the nuances of communication in a multicultural team. 

Ntando Mdladla—from Durban, South Africa—has recently graduated from the UCT CEMS MiM earning a qualification from both UCT and CEMS. She is now working in Germany as part of a graduate training program for Beiersdorf—a German multinational manufacturing company home to world-renowned brands such as Nivea and Eucerin. 

“I’ve always wanted an international career, so the CEMS MiM seemed like the perfect next step to build on the knowledge and skills I already had from my bachelor’s,” says Ntando.

During the CEMS MiM at UCT, students also explore the importance of understanding emerging and developing markets for building a robust global perspective. The immersive week-long Doing Business in Africa seminar welcomes global industry professionals to deep-dive into understanding business in emerging markets. 

“The classes have been so engaging. I’m already gaining a new perspective on different approaches to grow businesses in different regions,” says Neelo Gopolang, current student on the CEMS MiM at the University of Cape Town. 


2. Embarking on an exchange semester at business school 

The best way to understand different markets is to experience them. Taking part in an exchange semester at business school allows you to learn from international professors, immerse yourself in a new culture, and gain insights into a different job market. 

During the CEMS MiM, students can choose one of 33 world-leading business schools to study at for their exchange semester. The University of Cape Town GSB is the only business school in Sub-Saharan Africa that is part of this network. 

For her exchange, Ntando opted to study at Esade Business School in Barcelona. 

“I’ve never been to Europe before, so Barcelona seemed like a great place to experience culture,” she says. 

CEMS MiM students are also required to learn a language. So alongside core courses, Ntando took part in beginner Spanish classes and could practice speaking when she explored the city. 

Neelo, on the other hand, is excited to embark on her exchange semester at Korea University Business School in Seoul, South Korea. 

“I’ve always wanted to go to South Korea but then we learned more about the country’s growth in the global strategy course and that enticed me even more. South Korea’s work culture is very efficient, so I want to be able to throw myself in that and challenge myself not just in terms of language but also in my mindset,” she says. 

Students connect with their wider CEMS cohort who will be joining them on the exchange from business schools all over the world via Whatsapp in the months leading up to travelling. 

“It’s great to already feel integrated as a cohort. I feel even more excited for the trip,” says Neelo. 


3. Working with a globally diverse cohort 

Learning how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and understanding how culture impacts leadership styles are essential skills for any career. 

The CEMS MiM welcomes 108 nationalities from more than 75 countries around the world. 

“Most of, if not all, of my classmates are from different parts of the world. It’s very interesting to see the different cultures and the way people deal with different situations,” says Neelo. 

Not only do students interact in classes such as the Business Communication Skills seminar, there is also the opportunity to join the CEMS Club and various other student clubs. Neelo is part of the Entrepreneurship Club and the Women in Business Society at UCT. She is also vice president of the CEMS Board. 

In her role she helps organize all events and makes sure all departments—marketing, social media, and student relations—are aligned. She is currently planning an upcoming Corporate Social Responsibility event in partnership with U-turn, a non-profit in South Africa working to end homelessness. 

“It has been amazing so far to have this network of people that are on the same journey as you and are ambitious and keen to get involved,” says Neelo.  


4. Business school projects with international companies 

Not only do business school projects give you valuable experience to add to your resume, if you impress the company you’re working with you may even fast-track to a job post-graduation. 

The Master in International Management at UCT includes an international internship and a Business Analysis project where students work closely with a company. 

This is where Ntando first connected with Beiersdorf. In her student project, she consulted on a diversity and inclusion policy framework for the company. Ntando then arranged a conversation with a recruiter at the company to find out more about the opportunities available. 

Through this, she landed a position on the Beyond Borders graduate trainee program at Beiersdorf headquarters in Germany. 

To begin the program, Ntando is gaining experience in brand management and marketing. She will also spend six months abroad at one of 170 international offices. 

“I think international experiences are so important for career advancement and company growth but also personal growth,” she concludes.

Student Reviews

University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT)

New experiences and new connections

The university is a vibrant environment with a blend of cultures and languages from around the world. The lecturers are world-renowned and give their all in ensuring that the lectures are understandable and engaging. I would definitely recommend a prospective student to enjoy the UCT experience

The diversity

You can find people of every race and culture at UCT. This is especially beneficial for students from towns and rural areas. This diversity promotes self-development, foreign language study, courage, and a strong sense of moral principles. There is always academic support available, and students are given the assistance they need to succeed academically. Health care facilities are conveniently located on campus and are all easily accessible at UCT.

Great programme

The programme covers all the principles necessary to understand in order excel in your career and workplace. As a computer science graduate, the programme has better prepared me for real life. Not only with programming skills but with an in-depth understanding of the field I am in.
The campus is really beautiful, with a huge aspect of GREEN. There is literally plants everywhere which makes the place looks beautiful and shows the university cares for the environment.
All the students are super nice too!

fun

It was great fun and learning experience at the University of Cape Town. I believe it is ranked the top university of Africa because of its extra and exceptional way of learning which start from scratch.

Best Experience

The greatest thing about UCT is the amount of diversity – there are people from all over Africa and usually there are exchange students and just foreigners. The fact that it is also the top university in Africa is telling.

Best Short Courses

I recently complete the UCT marketing short online course in partnership with Getsmarter. I had a fantastic experience. I would recommend this to anyone. It take Up to 3 month to complete the course. There is a variety to chose from. It is great to help you advance in your career but it will not take years to complete. Great way to equip yourself in different areas and definitely worth the money you spent. Great tutors as well

Top Notch

This is the best university ever. The students’ wellbeing are their top priority. During the fire that occurred at the campus, resulting in facilities such as res and libraries badly burned. The university took it upon themselves to sent us to private accommodation where they paid for our stay. I will never forget that experience and will always be grateful for what UCT has done!

Amazing Experience

I started my journey at the university of Cape Town in 2019, as a foreign students I can say it was accommodating and not even a day did I feel discriminated. It has good facilities and ranked one of the best university in South Africa. The fees are expensive though especially for foreign students

Brilliant for FM career

The courses were interactive and the lecturer and support staff were supportive. There was a wealth of knowledge in the casework and the outcomes were realistic and relevant to the industry. The assessments were clear and unambiguous.

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