When John Schneider first heard about Georgia Tech’s International Plan as an entering freshman, he knew it was his ticket to a world of business opportunities.
Now a management senior due to graduate in August, Schneider believes he’s well positioned to work overseas for a multinational corporation, thanks to the in-depth global competence he’s gained at Georgia Tech.
Started in 2005, the International Plan is a four-year program that integrates international studies and experiences into many participating major at Georgia Tech. Receiving a special designation on their degrees, International Plan participants gain a competitive advantage in an increasingly interconnected world.
Year in Paris
To fulfill the program requirement of at least 26 weeks of international experience (work, research, or study), Schneider spent his entire junior year studying at Sciences Po, a leading academic institution in Paris, France.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” says Schneider, who took courses on such topics as global governance, international marketing, and cross-cultural management. “I love learning about other cultures and being able to see first-hand how they do things.”
Schneider already had quite a bit of overseas experience before even beginning the International Plan. During middle school, he lived for a year in Germany while his father was on assignment for Hewlett-Packard. His family visited France several times during their stay, and Schneider fell in love with the country, beginning his French language studies soon afterward.
Open to the Possibilities
He is open to career opportunities not only in France, but also in other parts of Europe and Asia. “It would be nice to use my French, but I could learn Korean, if needed to,” Schneider says.
International Plan students must gain proficiency in a foreign language and complete core courses focused on international relations, the global economy, and cross-cultural comparisons.
Georgia Tech defines the global competence that International Plan participants pursue as the ability to:
- Exhibit knowledge of international social, political, and economic systems;
- Assimilate easily into foreign communities and work environments; and
- Communicate with confidence in a global context.
At Sciences Po, Schneider learned a lot a wide range of cultures because the school has such a high ratio of exchange students. “I made really good friends with people from Singapore, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, and all over the place,” he says.
Schneider admits he faced some challenges in getting settled there (finding an affordable apartment in a tight rental market) and adjusting to the culture (he cites the more relaxed attitude about time and business hours).
“But I had a great time,” he says. “I’m even appreciative of the occasional snafus because they taught me a lot about how things work there and how to work through different situations. So much of my learning was outside of the classroom. I highly recommend the International Plan to future students.”