Four students are studying business in India, a place of contradictions and variety.
India has changed the way Jacob Olson ’14 thinks about business.
While studying in the country for a semester, he has worked with nongovernmental organizations, startup entrepreneurs and global corporations.
The experiences have been as varied and contradictory as the country itself.
“India is filthy but beautiful; it’s chaotic but somehow organized; it’s impossibly huge and metropolitan, but also rural and home grown,” says Olson, Williston, N.D. “This (experience) has in some way shaped me for the rest of my life.”
Olson, who is majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in business, is one of four Concordia students on the inaugural Global Business in India program. The program exposes students to international business practices while demonstrating how social challenges can be solved with business acumen.
Based out of Bangalore, India, the students completed two internships during the semester – one with a women’s handicraft cooperative and another with a corporate giant, either IBM or Thomson Reuters.
They also took a course on social entrepreneurship where one of their assignments was to raise money for an NGO. The winning team raised $2,000 in a week.
“Social entrepreneurs are changing the world, wherever they are,” says Dr. Greg Cant, dean of Concordia’s Offutt School of Business. “Our students had opportunities to see the immense power of entrepreneurship in all sorts of settings.”
While working with the women’s cooperative Sabala, the business students helped revive its e-commerce website and recommended ways to increase internal efficiency. The cooperative gives rural women employment opportunities and, ultimately, financial resources so they can send their children to school.
For his corporate internship, Olson was at Thomson Reuters where he edited content for the company’s FindLaw team and shadowed employees in the news division.
“It’s been a great insight into what it’s like to be a financial news reporter,” he says.
Derek Algaard ’16, Laurel, Mont., interned at IBM where he was part of a team that examined recruitment policies and procedures for hiring new employees in the ITS department. He is a business major concentrating in finance.
“It’s allowed me to assess the type of business I enjoy studying and what I may want to pursue as a career in the future,” he says.
India is a particularly unique place to study business models and activities. It’s not unusual for slums to be located next to sleek corporate buildings. Progress has different meanings, depending on the context.
For that reason, the business students studied with peers in the Social Justice, Peace, and Development program that is held in Bangalore during the same semester.
“That experience forced us to question business practices,” says Zach Lipp ’16, Fargo, N.D., whose major is yet undecided. “This program triggered me to analyze how corporations can affect society – for both bad and good.”
Students also experienced the energy and camaraderie a global economy can bring.
After two weeks of navigating Bangalore’s startup community, Lipp was soon recognized by entrepreneurs in the city of millions. A local business owner once walked up to him, greeted him by name and high-fived him.
“That’s cool,” Lipp says.