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Commerce program opens doors abroad

When Willem Bark says he has the travel bug in his gene pool, he's not kidding. The 28-year-old graduate of Centennial College's International Business co-op program has lived in Scotland, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Hong Kong, among other places.
Students in Centennial College's International Business program often choose to work on laptop computers, since the nature of the business will require them to be mobile professionals. The program responds to the exponential growth in international trade and commerce.

Mind you, that experience was amassed while moving around with his family -- Bark's father was an international banker -- but the apple sure hasn't fallen far from the family tree.

Bark had been working for a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, when he decided he wanted to gain some broader knowledge of international business. He decided to come to Toronto, where his parents had settled, and enrol at Centennial College. He had studied previously at a university in his native Holland, but found the learning experience frustrating.

Co-op education

"Centennial's program fit my needs. I was looking for an applied, hands-on education -- which the co-op program delivered," Bark says.

The college provided three semesters of paid work placement for him with some large corporations, including BMO Nesbitt Burns, ADP and UBS Bank. "I felt North American work experience was vital to have."

Bark liked the smaller classes and diversity at Centennial. "The students are anywhere from 18 to 30 years old, so there's always someone you can network with," he notes.

Bark especially liked the applied learning inherent to the program. He found the small business management, international finance, negotiation and business strategy courses most applicable to his job today.

Bark works as a project co-ordinator for ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank in Toronto. In addition, he studies at Ryerson University in the final year of the Business Management program.

His Centennial diploma got him into the degree program with a minimum of fuss: "Ryerson allowed me to jump into the third year easily."
  • Graduates may be eligible for the Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation, prescribed by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT).
  • Employment opportunities for graduates include working in customs and traffic management, consulting, purchasing and administration.
  • Qualified graduates can earn their Business Administration degree, thanks to articulation agreements with such Centennial partner universities as: Ryerson, Lakehead, Royal Roads, Athabasca and Lethbridge.
  • Class of 2003 grads of the International Business program report an average starting salary of $28,200.

  • Degree completion is another benefit of studying at Centennial. The college has articulation agreements with numerous universities around North America where graduates can go to earn a degree in business administration in little additional time.

    The combined college-university path is one that Bark highly recommends. The applied learning of college with the theoretical base of university is a good mix, says Bark. It also doesn't hurt that college tuition fees are typically half the cost of university.

    Three-year program

    Centennial's three-year International Business program gives students all the basics of business, as well as specialized knowledge of international trade law, finance, sales and marketing. Job opportunities for graduates typically include customs and traffic management, consulting, purchasing and administration.

    It's no secret growth in international trade and a global economy is fuelling the need for more international business specialists. These are individuals who are comfortable working with myriad regulatory requirements and people from different cultures.

    Centennial recommends program candidates have excellent communications skills, with working knowledge of a second language.

    Having lived on three continents, Willem Bark already has a good sense of what international commerce is all about. For the time being, he's very happy to be studying and working in Toronto, but he knows the travel bug will be biting soon. "I'll definitely be looking forward to moving again," he grins.

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