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At USC Marshall, spring break serves as springboard for globetrotting

Undergraduates take on the world

by Jeremy Deutchman
Undergraduate trips combine cultural and business education in Hong Kong, India and Chile. (Photo/John Dewar)
Undergraduate trips combine cultural and business education in Hong Kong, India and Chile. (Photo/John Dewar)

This week, USC Marshall School of Business undergraduates are preparing to take on the world. As part of the school’s trailblazing emphasis on experiential learning, hundreds of students will spend their spring break abroad soaking up international cultures and absorbing critical lessons about the fast-paced global economy.

Through “Learning About International Commerce” (LINC), a two-unit course that includes a nine-day trip overseas, groups of USC Marshall freshmen will travel to Hong Kong, New Delhi and Santiago, Chile. Students in the World Bachelor in Business program, who spend three years in three different countries pursuing three degrees, will journey with LINC to Buenos Aires, adding a fourth continent to their undergraduate itinerary. The only program in the country that focuses on exposing first-year students to business practices outside the United States, LINC immerses participants in the culture, history, politics and business of their respective destinations.

“LINC — and all of Marshall’s international programs — offer our undergraduates vital hands-on opportunities to expand their knowledge and broaden their horizons,” said Kim West, associate dean of USC Marshall’s undergraduate program. “These experiences are central to our philosophy of introducing students to real-world business issues from the very beginning of their academic careers.”

Another of the school’s signature international programs is the Global Leadership Program (GLP). Open by invitation only to the most academically talented students in each incoming freshman class, GLP consists of a fall and spring course that includes regular meetings for social activities, networking, advising and career development. The experience is capped off with a spring break trip to Shanghai or Beijing. As in previous years, current GLP students will meet with executives from some of the top companies and businesses in major cities across Asia.

“Each group of our GLP students will visit both Shanghai and Beijing — switching mid-week and overlapping for a day,” West said. “The idea is not only to maximize students’ exposure, but also to allow them some time to process the experience together.”

Some of the students will process their thoughts by blogging — keeping a daily journal of their observations during the trip and posting it in real time. The exercise enables them to reflect on the things they do and the people they meet, providing a vicarious learning experience for peers, friends and family back home.

The programs represent an ambitious endeavor for USC Marshall, which helps fund the trips through scholarships and coordinate the activities of hundreds of students spanning multiple continents. This year’s spring break cohort includes 13 groups comprising more than 500 undergraduate and MBA students.

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