Management & International Business: Student Testimonials

Austin Sooklall

Specialist: Management and International Business (MIB) Co-op

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
For many high school students choosing which university they’d like to go to and which program is right for them is often a much bigger deal than we give it credit. To many it is the first step in this much bigger phenomenon they begin to call life. It begins to a represent a future for many, that is for the first time, uncertain, filled with anxiety, ambiguous, and daunting.
 
When the time came around for me to ultimately decide what it is I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I remember sitting down one day and just looking at the world and how it has evolved over the past few years and tried to look at what lay ahead. I knew from the outset that business was right for me and ever since I was child I was always fascinated and intrigued by the mysteries of what lay beyond the confines of Toronto. The Management and International Business (MIB) program offered me just that. The MIB program offered me the ability to pursue a business degree while discovering what this immense world has to offer me. I always knew that the world was my oyster and MIB program was the perfect stage to take advantage of that.
 
The concepts of Globalization and a world without borders were taking foothold and in stepped the rise of multinational corporations. Demand was growing for global leaders who could drive border-less organizations to international success. And, the MIB program offered me a platform upon which to take advantage of this new found demand for international leadership. It meant that what I was studying would have been issues that were prevalent and heavily debated in society at the time, and to an extensive degree still are. More so, it meant that upon graduating I would have had a competitive advantage over those who did not necessarily possess the skill set needed to thrive abroad.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
The Management and International Business (MIB) program is the only undergraduate international business program offered at the University of Toronto. The program sets out to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills and experiences to view business through a truly international lens. More so, being a part of this program has taught me how to leverage an extensively global mindset through a focus on leadership in cross cultural contexts and demonstrating the commitment, leadership, and problem solving skills to thrive abroad.
 
The 12 months of co-op work experience prior to graduation, both domestically and internationally is perhaps more important in today’s day and age than ever before in history. Without a doubt, where I have worked has helped shape me into the person I am today. Undeniably, these corporate experiences have made me more mature, more confident and more optimistic about what lies ahead. In some sense, they’ve provided me with stability and reassurance. They’ve given me with a solid ground upon which to tackle all that life will throw at me once I leave university. And, more importantly, they’ve given me more than just relevant corporate experience; they’ve given me direction in life.
 
There is a whole department of networking and career development professionals to guide your way in finding phenomenal placements in some of the largest and most influential organizations globally. The Co-op program even offers mandatory workshops, seminars and one-on-one mock resume/cover letter/interview sessions to prepare you for job hunting.
 
One of the highlights of the program is also the ability to study abroad during your four year degree. For my study abroad term I had the unique opportunity to study at King’s College London within the United Kingdom, an experience only made possible through the MIB program. We've leveraged relationships with 150 partner universities in 50 countries to establish a rapidly growing network of academic partners for the Management & International Business program, including:
 
• Mannheim University – Germany
• Hong Kong University – Hong Kong
• National University of Singapore – Singapore
• Lund University – Sweden
• University College London – UK
• King’s College London – UK
• University of Lyon - France
 
The curriculum offers a powerful combination of management fundamentals, international work experiences, and exposure to leadership across cultures and borders. Although, rigorous and at times stringent, the curriculum rewards you with a breadth of in-depth knowledge that goes above and beyond preparing you for whatever career path you set off on.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1. Get involved. A great aspect of UTSC student life is integrated extracurricular activities into your studies. Despite what you may think, university isn’t all about hitting the books. Along with taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities that are now accessible to you, enrich your student life by getting involved outside the classroom. Getting involved in extracurricular activities is an excellent way to get to know diverse body of students and world renowned faculty outside of your classroom. It gives you the opportunity to learn and grow from the experiences and stories of your peers and faculty alike and gain valuable insight that should help you navigate your journey through UTSC. These years represent one of the only times that you will have the chance to indulge freely in your hobbies and connect with people from a spectrum of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds – virtually at your front door. To make the most of student life, don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone, try new things and meet new people. Particularly under the reigns of Management, there are a multitude of student activities, clubs, work-study programs, case competitions, networking events, and other volunteer opportunities that are likely to peak any interest.
 
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you ever feel overworked, stressed or just in need of advice or a friendly ear, UTSC has an array of resources on campus to help you through difficult times. Managing the rigors of the MIB curriculum can at times be strenuous, having to deal with a multitude of competing priorities from coursework to extracurricular commitments whilst simultaneously planning for your study and work terms abroad. However, the Co-op department is committed to providing you with outstanding support as you prepare to work and study abroad, and while you are away. Leading up to your international work and study terms, you'll receive one-on-one career coaching and academic counseling, and job search training. If you feel like you need help managing a heavy workload? Head to the Student Center or make an appointment with the university's Health and Wellness Center to search for help. If you feel homesick and burned out? Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you trust.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
After graduating I hope to leverage some of the experiences I have gained throughout my degree, both domestically and internationally, to land the job of my dreams. One that will allow me to travel the world and discover all that it has to offer. The amazing thing about the MIB program is that it is opened up the realm for me to explore a life after post-secondary education beyond the borders of Toronto. The biggest question for me is not what I want to do but rather where I want to do it?
 
At some point, I do want to continue higher education and get my eMBA possibly in a country like the United Kingdom, or Germany, Singapore, the US, or Hong Kong. And, the ability to leverage the global reputation of the University of Toronto goes a long way in establishing a successful career and life overseas.
 
I always tell people that UTSC Management helped shape me into the business professional I am today, confident, successful and ready to tackle what the corporate world has to offer. But my time abroad helped shape me into the adult that I know I needed to be to embark on life after university. It taught me to be independent and self-sufficient and allowed me to grow as an adult.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
The first academic year of the MIB program is meant to foster the foundations upon which to acquire your first domestic co-op placement. There is emphasis on the basics of management, accounting, economics, organizational behavior, marketing and communications within an organization. The first year is aimed at teasing out what it is you are truly interested in and then seeking out a co-op placement in that respective field. First year is also the time to socialize and explore what UTSC has to offer, in terms of interesting clubs, athletics and other extracurricular such as volunteer positions.
 
In second year, you will spend a portion of your time working in your co-op placement and the remainder of the year will be spent diving deeper into the core functions of a firm and understanding key concepts in a greater degree of detail. You will also begin to take courses that delve into more detail about how the concept taught throughout can be applied and vary internationally. In addition, towards the end of the year you will begin prepping for your study and work term abroad. This includes attending information sessions and study and work abroad workshops, as well as gathering all the pertinent information required to submit a formal application for your study abroad term. In addition, a few hours should be dedicated each week to applying to international job placements prior to going abroad.
 
Third year is where you will finally go abroad and have the opportunity to study and work overseas. Another fantastic thing about this program is that it is surprisingly flexible. You can generally choose where and when you'd like to study and work abroad. I have known friends who have worked abroad in their second year and have gone on their study abroad term in their fourth year of studies. In addition, if you haven't already secured a work placement abroad you are expected to dedicate a significant portion of time looking for work.
 
In your final year of studies you are going to find yourself juggling a lot of very important commitments, along with trying to achieve highest grade possible. By now you would have more than likely accumulated a full calendar year of corporate experience both domestically and internationally and would have most likely gone on your study abroad term. Now it is all about hitting the books and landing that job you've always dreamed of.