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The Champlain College Robert P. Stiller School of Business has received its second $100,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation to provide internships in Shanghai, China for 10 students in the business school.
The Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vt., is dedicated to augmenting international understanding between the United States and the nations of East Asia, primarily through educational grants. The Freeman Foundation chose Champlain College to be a recipient of a grant in the fall of 2012, which allowed 14 business students to work in China for summer internships in 2013.
"Being accepted into this program was a major achievement," said senior international business major Alaina Cellini, who interned at Shanghai Hippo Animation Company for 10 weeks last summer. Cellini utilized her interests in supply chain sustainability, marketing and consulting in the internship at China's leading animation company. "My three months in China were some of the most life changing ones thus far," she continued.
"Living in Shanghai and putting myself thousands of miles outside my comfort zone allowed me to figure out who I am as a young professional," Cellini said. "It forced me to appreciate the opportunities I've been given and recognize my talents and give myself a pat on the back once in a while. It gave me the independence to choose a career path and search for job opportunities in strategic consulting and international trade and development." Cellini is currently working as a sustainability intern at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and hopes to move to Portland, ME after graduation.
"The Freeman opportunity is one of the most unique and exciting options I have seen in my many years in academic leadership. Freeman alums come home with spectacular experiences and jobs. What more could a business major ask?" according to Wesley Balda, dean of the Stiller School of Business.
The grant provides a stipend towards normal expenses associated with a semester or summer internship in China. The grant covers room and board at The Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE), an intensive course in Mandarin, an internship placement fee, airfare to China, and students may budget for regional travel, food and other goods. Other expenses are out of pocket for students.
Based on the success of the program's inaugural year, the grant was renewed by the Freeman Foundation, but administrators of the program at Champlain have been working to make some adjustments based on feedback from last year's group.
"As to the evolution of the project, this year the program is partnering with the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE), with whom Champlain College has a partnership agreement," said Assistant Dean of Business Scott Baker, who is an administrator of the Freeman grant program. He reports that all 10 students in the 2014 program will live together at SUIBE for the summer and take an intensive Mandarin language course prior to their internships. "This will allow them an incredible opportunity to quickly acclimate to Shanghai and learn some basic Mandarin before beginning their internships," he believes.
The evolution of the program is a testament to the dedication of the College to creating a valuable experience for business students.
"The Freeman Foundation grant recipients for the summer of 2013, and now 2014, represent a dynamic and diverse group from Champlain's Stiller School of Business," said Director of Study Abroad Noah Goldblatt. "The participants are outstanding ambassadors for the United States, and leave their Chinese hosts asking for more Champlain College students. The 2014 cohort will benefit from a new intensive four-week Chinese immersion program in Shanghai. This immersion program aims to enhance cultural competence prior to commencing the internship in China."
This year's internships will be with proven partners from last year's program as well as with new companies, selected with help from the North American High-Tech Center (NAHTC).
"We wanted to send students to internships that we at least had some Champlain connection with," said Baker. "Through NAHTC and the efforts of Tom Myers, we have built very strong connections with internship sites in Shanghai. And now, based on the great work of last year's students, these sites want more Champlain students."
NAHTC and Champlain College match students to internships based on their majors and areas of interest, whether it be international education, marketing or trade. NAHTC also provides in-country support to students and program administrators from the time students arrive in Shanghai.
"As a result of my internship I've been asked to come back after I graduate and work in Shanghai for the same company," said senior international business major Patrick Dodge, who interned at iconx skate shop and Wild Rampage. Dodge conducted further research for the company during his senior international business capstone and just notified Baker that he just landed his dream job at Burton here in Vermont. Open offers to return were also on the table for various other students, evidence of the good work they did in Shanghai, he noted.
Prior to placing students in internships last summer, Champlain College President David F. Finney, Vt. Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Miller, Champlain Associate Provost and International Education Officer James Cross, and Goldblatt traveled to Shanghai to meet with SUIBE. They networked with Shanghai businesses seeking interns, as well as promoted Champlain College and the state of Vermont.
Because of the partnership with SUIBE, students can choose to take advantage of just an internship, or they can study abroad at the University for a semester, although tuition is not covered by the grant. In its inaugural year, only international business major Ethan Edholm ‘13 took advantage of the study abroad program and completed a semester at SUIBE before joining other grant recipients and starting his internship at Shanghai Hippo Animation Company for the remainder of the summer.
Tom Myers, associate professor of international business, traveled to Shanghai last summer to meet with internship supervisors and NAHTC to get a sense of how the program was going. "Without variation," Myers reported, "the Chinese supervisors offered the same three comments about the students: the interns have a very strong work ethic, they are ready and willing to try new experiences, and they are very positive with a wonderful sense of humor." Additionally, the supervisors told Myers that they would love to have more students from Champlain at any time in the future. Program administrators again plan to travel to Shanghai in the summer of 2014 to ensure accommodations and classes at SUIBE are prepared prior to students' arrival, then again while students are there to meet with internship supervisors to discuss students' internships.
Back at Champlain, instructors lead online courses for the Shanghai students in internships, whether they opt to take it for credit or not-for credit. This allows students and program administrators to reflect on the students' progress, participate in discussion forums to share experiences and learn from one another, and provide additional support for students.
Although the deadline to apply for the summer of 2014 just passed, students in all programs are encouraged to look into international internship opportunities of their own. "This is certainly a great thing to have on my resume, and something that I'm pretty proud of," mentioned Dodge.
"Taking classes and learning concepts is one thing, but actually getting to use them and apply them to the real world, and at such a young age [is invaluable]," said Kaity Roberts, a junior business major who interned at Dunn Global. "Now when we leave [Champlain College], and our future employers say, ‘What can you bring to our table?' or ‘our workplace,' we'll be able to say, ‘I saw first-hand how international business works.'"
"We believe that we've built a successful internship model in China with the Freeman Foundation's generous grant and we're confident the 2014 program will provide incredibly successful and rewarding professional and personal experiences for the students," said Baker.
"In today's (and tomorrow's) global business environment, such exposure and experience will be invaluable and repeatedly serve the students well throughout their careers," Baker continued. "This experience will increase students' worldview, cultural awareness, and business experience, and help distinguish them as graduates with a demonstrated aptitude and ability to ‘stand out' among other college graduates. This is already clear based off the experiences of our 2013 program, the great work the students did, and the opportunities that are now open to them because of their efforts and experiences."
Members of the selection committee are busy reviewing applications and selecting 10 candidates to participate in the program's second year. These administrators of the program include Baker, Myers, Goldblatt, Cross, and School of Business Career Services Advisor Pat Boera.
Contact Dr. Scott Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and more than 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 380 Colleges: 2016 Edition. Champlain College is featured in the "Fiske Guide to Colleges" for 2016 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Champlain was named the #1 “Most Innovative School” in the North by the U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 “America’s Best Colleges and #14 in the overall list of “Best Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.