Thursday, April 9, 2015

Student to leave the US for the first time for business experience

By Sadie Hughes

Melissa Funk will leave the country for the first time on May 30 to experience real-life business situations. Funk is one of 17 students at Utah State University who will be going to Chile and Peru through the Go Global program.

“We want to give students an opportunity to really experience business and the cultural context of business in other countries,” said David Herrmann, the Go Global leader and adviser for the trip.

Funk, an economics major, will travel to businesses in Chile and Peru ranging from sewing shops to Goodyear.

“This will help me with my future goals because I will have experienced other cultures and seen how different political and economic theories work in practice,” Funk said. “Overall, I think this experience will help me better understand all the opportunities available in the world and how I can best pursue them.”

Funk hopes to eventually work in public policy or on Capitol Hill in a congressman’s office.

“I'm really excited to leave the country for the first time because I'll be exposed to so many new things all at the same time – new climates, new foods and new social norms,” Funk said.

In Chile, the students will also hear lectures from members of local businesses, visit the Embassy of Chile and go to a mining supply company.

 “The political and social environments in Chile and Peru are very different, so I'm excited to experience different cultures and better understand how different countries conduct business,” Funk said. “Understanding these differences will make me more educated and open-minded.

The last five days of the trip will be spent working with the Small Enterprise Education Development program. The students will be put into groups of three or four members and evaluate business plans of aspiring companies.

“They will verify the cost of the business plan and the price people are paying for that specific widget and try to decide if it will be profitable,” Herrmann said. “They will act as bank loan officers.”

After evaluating the business plans, each group will give a presentation explaining which companies they feel should receive loans from the SEED program.

“On the one hand they see how poor these people are and are trying to make it work for them,” Herrmann said. “But they don’t want to set those people up for something that’s going to fail.”

The loans range from $3,000 to $20,000.

“They have three options,” Herrmann said. “They can say yes, no or yes with these few changes.”

Funk has prepared for the trip by studying the history and business atmosphere of Chile and Peru as well as the cultures of both countries.

“While I have specific career goals, I think that this international experience will make me a better person,” Funk said. “At the end of the day my most important goal is to always be learning and growing.”

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