Students could receive overseas trade experience

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The College of Business and Economics is expected to offer an export consulting class in Spring 2006 that will focus on theories of international trade and assign students to local businesses as consultants.

The proposed project aspires to conduct outreach activities to businesses in the San Fernando Valley that assist them in becoming more competitive in exporting their goods or services, said Rafi Efrat, associate professor of business law and director of the International Business Program.

“What we want to accomplish under this grant is to develop an export consulting class to the community,” said Efrat.

The International Business Program was created in the summer after the U.S Department of Education awarded the College of Business and Economics a $150,000 grant, and an export consulting class is part of the program.

The program will be composed of all business students who are currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and who have declared an option such as Management, Finance, Marketing, Operations Management, Information Systems or Business Law.

“To make it possible for students to add an international dimension to their studies, this program, which is offered through the Open University, requires taking an additional five courses,” said Ali Behnezhad, professor of systems and operations management. “Moreover, students may take optional courses to strengthen their foreign language skills and expertise in a geographical region. In today’s global business environment, knowledge of international trade is an invaluable asset.”

In the export consulting class, students will spend the first eight weeks of the semester learning “nuts and bolts” of the practice of international trade, Efrat said.

Each week will focus on the mechanics of an area in international trade, including finance, logistics, marketing research, regulator compliance.

At the end of the eighth week of the semester, students will be divided into groups and each group will be assigned a small-business entrepreneur.

“We will be able to offer (help to) small- and medium-sized companies in the area, using our upper-division students to help them under the direction of practitioners in the area of international trade,” Efrat said.

Students will be able to help the companies in everything from developing a customized export plan to conducting market research.

“We will work with a number of community partners, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, mayors’ offices, the city of Los Angeles, the small business development center, (and the) small-business entrepreneur of Wells Fargo (on campus),” Efrat said. “Those are the main partners we will be working with to promote activity.”

Hana Hrabec-Snyder, vice president of Bank of the West in Monterey Park, said that she and her colleagues have discussed the possibility of having CSUN students call on export companies in the San Fernando Valley area and assist them with customized export plans as part of the IBP.

“We have not finalized any of the points brought up during our discussions,” Hrabec-Snyder said.

Students will have an opportunity to work at companies that rarely take interns through the class.

“We do not have college students working at our company as interns or otherwise currently,” Hrabec-Snyder said. Faculty from all colleges are involved in the development of the new university certificate.

“In entertainment, marketing basically stopped going some time ago, but – large numbers of people are (still) involved” in many categories, said Robert Gustafson, director of the Entertainment Industry Institute at CSUN.

There are other significant aspects of the grant for the IBP, such as opportunities for studying abroad, internships and networking. These pos-sibilities have been available in the department previously, but now the IBP will give financial support to business majors.

“We promote students study(ing) abroad or doing internship(s),” said Efrat. “We’re also developing the Exchange Program, (through which) business students actually take business courses in English (in) some other foreign countries. We also encourage international students to come to study in the United States.”

Many business majors showed their interest in the new program, especially in the export consulting class.

“I would like to take the class,” said Philip Juag, junior business major. “It will be better than taking a regular class.”

Aya Oikawa can be reached at aya.oikawa.73@csun.edu.