Why does Coca-Cola taste different in different countries? Why have big British companies located their call centres in India? Why do Hollywood films have different endings in the US compared to the UK? These are just some of the questions which a degree in international business could help you find the answers to.
As international travel and communications become easier, businesses are increasingly choosing to locate parts of their company wherever is best for them. Sometimes companies relocate to somewhere where it is cheaper to produce their goods; other times, they move closer to their international markets. For example, a great deal of the world's manufacturing is now done in the Far East as the cost of production is much lower there.
Companies need employees who know how to work in this globalised business world. Many universities and colleges recognise this need for graduates with international experience and offer degree programmes for people who wish to work in organisations that trade around the world. International business programmes offer students the opportunity to study how businesses work across national boundaries, taking into account the potential advantages and problems that this can result in.
But how is an international business degree different to an ordinary business programme? Well, studying international business will give you the opportunity to travel overseas, learn about different cultures and ways of doing business, learn languages and study business on both a global and local level. You will study all aspects of business, marketing, human resource management, finance and operations, but with an international business perspective in mind.
You will usually be expected to spend at least one year overseas during your programme and perhaps two. This might be a study exchange or a work placement, or a combination of both. If you'd like to visit a particular country during your studies, check with your chosen university or college to see if they have exchange partners or work placement opportunities in that country.
An international business degree is ideal if you like travelling, are interested in languages and cultures and are keen to work in a business that operates on a global scale. You will need to be confident about travelling alone and have an open-minded and independent attitude.
Whatever you are studying at A-level or AVCE, there is likely to be an international business programme for you. Some universities and colleges prefer you to be studying business or economics and a language, but others may accept you whatever you are studying. Check prospectuses for details of specific institutions' entry requirements. Then, when writing your personal statement in your UCAS application, show that you are interested in travel, that you are confident about living and working overseas, and that you are genuinely interested in global businesses.
International business graduates have the world at their feet! If you have a degree which has given you experience of travelling, living, studying or working overseas, language skills and an understanding of how global businesses and markets operate, you are a valuable asset to any company. Graduates go on to work in a range of roles too. You might work in international marketing, become a manager for a regional operation of a large company, or even set up your own business. Those with language skills are in high demand amongst employers and with your experience of living independently overseas, you will have demonstrated many of the skills companies are looking for.
So, if you love to travel and are interested in a high-flying job in a major company, a degree in international business might just be right for you.
A flavour of France
Thomas Smith, 20, studied at The Brunts Sixth Form, Mansfield. He has A-levels in business studies (A), geography (A) and ICT (B). Smith is now studying international business at the University of Hertfordshire (3rd year)
"During my A-level business studies course, I always found the international aspects of world business the most appealing. Therefore, I decided to opt for international business as opposed to a standard business degree in order to differentiate myself from future employment competition.
After research into the various programs offered at different universities, I decided that the course at the University of Hertfordshire was the right choice for me. The business school was ranked and after touring the university, I discovered that I would have access to exceptional resources.
To develop my language skills, I wanted a degree that would enable me to travel as well as providing me with valuable work experience. My first year was based in the UK, followed by a year of study in French at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada. Currently, I am on a work experience placement in the European headquarters of Merial, a world leading animal health company in Lyon, France.
Studying international business has enabled me to develop a wider understanding of the business world, gaining different perspectives from the UK, North America and continental Europe."
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