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Embracing Diversity

Kogod’s International Business Club encourages cross-cultural exchange through discussions,  site-visits, and networking

By Jamie McCrary

The International Business Club at their site visit to the World Bank.

The International Business Club at their site visit to the World Bank.

At the Kogod School of Business, an international experience is not just a possibility. It’s a given. "I've met students from many different countries," says Ajay Shah, BSBA ’16. "People from all over the world come to study here."

With nearly 25% of the business school comprised of international students, Kogod is a wealth of diverse perspectives, fostering an integrated understanding of business in the global sphere.

The International Business Club capitalizes on this multi-cultural learning environment, giving domestic and international students a space to meet, discuss global business issues, and find opportunities within the business world. "Having a place where students from different backgrounds can network and collaborate is crucial," says Shah, who was elected President for Fall 2016. "I think we can learn a lot from each other."

The club welcomes diverse academic backgrounds, as well. Former club President Spencer Cox first joined as a way to explore his field from a cross-cultural perspective.

Cox, who plans to work in the renewable energy industry, says the club helped him recognize the global impact he could have. “Renewable energy generation and storage are not just domestic problems—they are global. The International Business Club helped me realize this,” Cox says.

“The International Business Club is for all students who are interested in global business,” says Professor Ghiyath Nakshbendi, faculty advisor of the club. “Basically all businesses are international today, in some capacity. This globalism connects to many different industries.”

Members attend monthly meetings, attend club-sponsored speaking events, and organize off-site visits to international organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. Most recently, students visited the World Bank for a guided tour and overview of available work opportunities.

“Events like the World Bank site-visit combine the best of what AU offers,” Shah says. “Kogod students receive a top-notch education, and its DC location gives students the chance to apply what they learn to a real-world setting. Not many cities offer such remarkable experiences.”

For Professor Nakshbendi, the trip was all about exposing students to potential work opportunities. Nakshbendi believes site visits develop students’ perspective of international business, and build valuable networking skills. “Helping students locate jobs and internships is an integral part of my teaching,” he says.

Students are also exposed to different work opportunities through the club’s on-site guest speaking events. This year, the club hosted the Minister of Finance from the State of Qatar, who discussed how businesses operate there. After the discussion, Nakshbendi shared the speakers’ contact information with students, providing the opportunity for further networking outside the classroom. “These events help connect students to the larger international business community,” Nakshbendi says.

Shah is already hard at work planning for next year. He wants to organize visits to embassies to help students learn about business opportunities and challenges in different cultural markets. He also hopes to organize more casual events like visiting a Smithsonian exhibit that relates to a topic discussed during a meeting.

More than anything, he wants to continue providing a space for cross-cultural exchange by uniting Kogod’s diverse student body. “Creating an atmosphere outside of the classroom where people from different backgrounds come together to plan events and discuss issues creates a lot of value on campus,” Shah says.

Cox agrees wholeheartedly. “Having a student body that is more aware of their place in the international community helps everyone thrive.”