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International Business Dual Degree Participants: Preparing for Today’s Global Economy

What is it like to earn two degrees from two universities – with an ocean and half a continent between them – in four years? For Cody Nagy, it was “exactly what he was looking for,” he said.

Writing from his new hometown of Houston, Texas, Nagy is one of four NC State Poole College International Business Dual Degree (IBDD) program participants who responded to email interviews with Poole College communications about their experiences in the program. 

First IBDD-ESB Graduate

Nagy is Poole College’s first student to complete the IBDD program offered in partnership the European School of Business (ESB) at Reutlingen University in Germany. He graduated in spring 2018 with a bachelor’s in international management from ESB in Germany and a bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in finance from NC State Poole College. He also is now fluent in German, and has completed two internships aligned with his career goals.

The Poole College-ESB experience is one of five tracks available to Poole College undergraduate students through the IBDD-partner universities.

IBDD students complete two years at their home university, taking the regular course of study for their major as well as courses needed to gain proficiency in the language of their international partner university. In addition, they complete an internship at a company based in their home country. They then complete the remaining two years at the partner school, where classes are in the language of that country and where they also complete a second internship with companies located there.

“I am a firm believer that as many students as possible should do the IBDD program,” Nagy said. “It is unparalleled as far as providing students an international perspective on business and the credentials necessary in today’s globalized economy.”

Those credentials helped him to launch his career as an implementation consultant for PROS – a cloud-based software company with headquarters in Houston. “I firmly believe that by studying and working in Germany, I was fully prepared to succeed in professional environments. Leveraging two degrees with international experience opens many doors,” he said.

Nagy said he chose the program because he wanted to study abroad and learn another language in the process. He had spent a summer in Germany when he was younger, visiting with his grandfather in Berlin. “I fell in love with the country and the language. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to learn German and someday live in Germany,” he said.

“When I heard about the International Business Dual Degree program, I knew immediately that it was exactly what I was looking for. It provided a medium for me to fully immerse myself in the German culture while gaining excellent educational and professional experiences.”

Language, academics, work experience, travel

He began his undergraduate studies at Poole College, with the typical courses for a business administration degree and a concentration in finance. For his electives, Nagy focused on German language courses. While at ESB, he took additional finance courses to meet his finance concentration requirements, and additional business courses, including logistics, management information science, strategy and international business law.

Nagy also had a six-month internship with Volkswagen AG in Germany, coordinating change requests between Wolfsburg, Germany and Chattanooga, Tenn., for the U.S. Passat and Atlas, and served as finance and legal department head for the ESB Student Consulting Association, coordinating and managing seven different consulting projects.

He shared three major takeaways from his IBDD experience.

  • Being able to work with people from all over the world and feeling comfortable in diverse environments,
  • Building a network and establishing friendships that span multiple continents, and
  • Growing as a young professional.

“Experiencing different cultures can be some of the most fun (experiences) you’ll have in your career,” he said.

What would he say to students exploring this option?

“Do it! This program will be challenging and it forces you out of your comfort zone, but this will grow your comfort zone to the point where you are confident you can handle whatever the world might throw at you,” he said.

First-Year IBDD Participant

Alice Magnani at NC State Poole College
Alice Magnani at NC State Poole College

Among the newest participants in the dual-degree program is Alice Magnani, a first-year student at Poole College who graduated from South Mecklenburg High School in spring 2018.

“I was interested in participating in the IBDD program because it combined many of my interests. I knew I wanted to be a business major but I also knew I wanted to travel,” she said.

“I am in the Italian track of IBDD. I chose this track because my family is from Italy and I know Italian fluently. I was always interested in going to college in Italy and getting my degree there. With this program I get to experience the best of both worlds, and experience American and Italian college life – all while getting two degrees,” she said.

Magnani had studied abroad before, for two weeks in Cadiz, Spain, during her junior year of high school.

Since starting the IBBD program at Poole College, she said she has “enjoyed getting to know the international students (who are at Poole College for the second two years of the program – their U.S. experience) as well as the other American students who will be going abroad with me.”

She also is looking forward to taking advantage of opportunities to connect with international companies through events like the 2018 Italian Technology and Foreign Direct Investment Round Table being held at NC State in partnership with Casa della Cultura Italiana (CCI-NC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote Italian business, technology, language and culture in North Carolina.

She said she sees the IBDD program as “a great opportunity for any student who is interested in fully (immersing) themselves in a different country and culture. This program also makes students stand out in the job market because of the dual degree component and the uniqueness of the program.”

An Investment in Yourself

Namrata Jumani at NC State Poole College
Namrata Jumani at NC State Poole College

Namrata Jumani, now in the second year of the IBDD program’s Spanish track, will be going to the ICADE Universidad Pontifica Comillas in Madrid, Spain, where she will complete her junior and senior years, beginning in August 2019

“The IBDD program was the best choice for me as it allows me to grow both personally and professionally,” she said. “I’ve always loved traveling and knew I wanted to study abroad in college; however, the IBDD program is a level deeper than studying abroad – it’s living abroad. I appreciate the chance to truly immerse myself in a different culture for two years while I furthered my education. The program has already been incredibly rewarding over the past year and I know the challenge will be worth it at the end,” she said.

“I have taken Spanish since middle school, so I felt comfortable with the language and since Spanish is the third most-spoken language in the world, I knew it would be a great asset for me in the future,” she said.

Jumani was born in Ahmedabad, India, and moved to the U.S. with her parents when she was very young.

“My mixed upbringing is very important to me; I believe it lets me get the best of both worlds and allows me to view the world from a unique perspective,” she said, adding that frequent family visits to relatives in India has provided many opportunities to travel internationally. “This past summer, my family took an extended layover in Europe and traveled through France, Switzerland, and Italy.” She hasn’t been to Madrid yet, but said, “I have loved exploring Europe and can’t wait to live there.”

Jumani said the IBDD program “is an intense accelerated program; however, I have seen myself grow by leaps and bounds already. Academically, I have learned how to balance and prioritize my schedule. As an IBDD student, I got to take advanced level classes and to dive right into my major, which was an enriching experience that many freshmen don’t get.

“Through the program, I’ve made friends who are going to different countries across Europe and met students from abroad who are finishing their undergraduate education at NC State. Connecting with people from different backgrounds who all share the same passion for travel as me has been mind-opening and really reminds me that there’s so much to do in the world,” she said.

“This past summer I had the chance to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to an internship at Ipreo. I collaborated with an international team to research and implement Salesforce enhancements, learned about global markets and financial technology, and led data quality analysis and improvement campaigns. The skills I developed at Ipreo have prepared me for the professional work environment and I hope to utilize them during my international internship.”

Jumani said the “IBDD program is an investment into yourself. Over the next four years, you will grow immensely. It can be challenging at times; however, these obstacles teach real life values. Just this year, I’ve seen myself better my time-management and proactiveness skills – skills that I know are valued by employers. Within four years you can earn two degrees, from two different universities, gain experience living abroad, and have two rewarding internships. It’s a full package and it’s definitely worth it! 

She also has tapped into other campus resources to grow personally. “I’ve greatly appreciated having a strong network of friends and mentors to support and guide me through these four years,” she said. That network includes membership in the Poole College of Management Student Ambassadors and Nazaare, NC State’s premier Bollywood fusion dance team.

“With the Poole Ambassadors, I get to learn about career opportunities and serve as the face of the college,” she said. As a member of Nazaare, she has participated in competitions across the country, including a national-level competition in San Francisco.

Living in the Impact Leadership Village during her freshman year also helped her to “build a community of engaged and empowering leaders on campus.

“Many of my IBDD peers are also involved in activities similar to mine, and together we’ve formed great friendships. Through the IBDD program and through my activities I’ve connected with great individuals who push me to be the best version of myself,” she said.

Embracing Change, Personal Growth

Mickael Jean Morales on his travels
Mickael Jean Morales on his travels

Mickael Jean Morales provided perspective on his transition from his first two years as an IBDD student at Poole College to the first year of his international experience, at the NEOMA Business School in Reims, France, where he studied and then completed an internship in Tunisia. He now is in his second year at Reims and his final year in the program.

This wasn’t his first international experience, though. Morales, who was born in France and grew up in Mexico, began studying French while at Green Hope High School in Cary, N.C.

Even so, he said, “Coming to this program in France meant a big change to me. On the personal aspect, I was living on my own in a completely different country with a different language, and it was great to see how, little by little, I was feeling more comfortable with my French and with getting adapted into the culture and the city.”

The school also was “a huge change,” he said. “The French system is very different from the American one. Classes last a lot longer and they are a lot more analytical and group-oriented. All of my classes include group work and a lot of writing, where you are expected to be able to explain your thoughts in a very detailed way.”

His classmates in those courses were dual degree students from the program’s various partner schools around the world. That was something that he really enjoyed, he said. “I really appreciate this because I am all the time in an international environment with people that are in the same boat as me, and I get to learn a lot about cultural differences, points of view, and ways of working of people from very different backgrounds,” he said.

Morales offers a bit of advice for students considering the IBBD program.

“Be very motivated and open-minded to get the most out of this program,” he said. Like in any new environment, there are going to be harder and easier times along the way, but the overall experience is so enriching that it makes all the hard work worth it. Not only will you become way more independent, but also you learn how to work, study, and live in a different environment with people from many backgrounds, and that for me is the biggest take away.”

He also said, “It is incredible to see how much one can grow and mature in only one year. The number of experiences that I have had … makes it feel like I’ve been here for a lifetime. Being able to see and understand things from different approaches has made me more capable of tackling everyday challenges in a more positive way.”

Another takeaway, he said, is the impact of having the program on his resume. “Being multilingual and having had work experience in an international setting will open many doors to me and will make me a stronger candidate when applying for future jobs or master’s programs, either in Europe or in the United States,” he said.

Working Internationally

Morales completed a six-month internship in Tunisia, North Africa, as part of his IBBD program, working in the finance department of a French company called Asteelflash. “Moving to a different continent, in a country with such a different culture, also was a great challenge to me. But this experience also helped me improve my language and adaptability skills and become a more cultural person,” he said.

He also learned a great deal from the internship experience, he said. “I saw the different types of problems that companies face on a daily basis, and how teams work together to fix these problems and to meet customer demands. I also understood better the role of the finance department in a company, and how all the departments have to work as a unit to achieve common goals.”

On the personal side, Morales said of the internship, “I felt like I grew even more independent as I was completely on my own and I had to figure out how to get everything I needed to be able to settle well into my new life. This experience was also very enriching because I learned a lot about the Arabic culture and the opinion and points of view that they have about what is going on around the world. I was very lucky to be super well-received by everyone, and even though I was completely on my own, I knew there were many people around me willing to help with whatever I needed,” he said.

After finishing his internship in Tunisia, Morales said he decided to stay in Europe for a five-week backpacking trip.

“Traveling is something I love to do, and being able to take a train or bus and be in a different country in a couple of hours is one of the many perks that one can get in Europe. The places I visited and the people I met made this traveling experience very unique, and it is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

Morales said he will be sharing his experience with students at his high school in the future, as part of a commitment made when accepting the John Philip Couch Scholarship that he received in 2017, to help finance his two years of study in France. The scholarship is offered by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French to help cover students’ study abroad tuition. 


This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.