Why hire someone with international experience?

Why hire someone with international experience? It’s a simple question that is perhaps best answered with a story.

Meet Jared Stryker. 23 years old. Left-handed. Born on Christmas. Loves to travel and explore new, unfamiliar places.

The travel bug was sparked when he went to Japan through Rotary Youth Exchange in 2013. While he was there, he was faced with a number of challenges due to the language and culture barriers. But instead of backing down and giving up, he was persistent, optimistic, and always made the best out of the situation.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about yourself, as well as other countries,” he said. “And so, I wanted to do it again. I wanted to put myself in a country that I knew next to nothing about: where I didn’t know the language, where I didn’t know the culture, and where I could challenge myself, to throw myself way outside of my comfort zone and see what sticks.”

A natural risk taker, Jared was craving another experience like the one he had in Japan.

“I think it’s exciting to be in a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said, smiling. “That’s kind of fun.”

When I interviewed him, Jared had just returned from a 10 month exchange to Chongqing, China through Laurier International. There, he studied Mandarin and Chinese culture. His mornings were devoted to learning the language, and his afternoons were spent immersing himself in Chinese culture by participating in activities like “calligraphy or reading and writing classes […], or Chinese song.”

In fact, he actually did a song performance in Harbin, which is one of his favourite moments in China. Others include cycling around the southern island of Hainan over seven days, playing music in the square, and modelling for a month.

Having been able to experience so many things he would not have been able to if he stayed in Canada, he finds it “hard to pick out a favourite.” Granted, he could get involved with the Chinese communities here, but actually immersing one’s self in a different culture provides a completely different experience.

Of course, Jared also brought back language and culture skills. And, just like when he went to Japan, he did not come back the same person. His personal development was reflected in his positivity and optimism.

“You learn how to be more accepting of whatever the situation,” he said.

However, it’s difficult to instantly recognize how one has grown: “I think sometimes it takes a lot of reflection and a lot of time past your exchange to truly put things into perspective. It’s not always immediately noticeable that you’ve changed, but you’ve learned a lot of stuff.”

These soft and hard skills can be applied in both his studies and work.

“For school, because I’m in Global Studies, it really throws you into the fray of what you’re studying. A big part of [the program] is China and East Asian studies, so you get to see everything firsthand. You get to be on the front lines of what you’re studying,” he explained.

What’s more, since he went on exchange with Laurier International, he was still paying Laurier tuition, getting student loans, and he also managed to obtain a few transfer credits.

Laurier International aims to connect students with exchange experiences that will supplement their academic studies. They keep in contact with numerous universities and organizations around the world, making it easy for students to find placements in different countries. They also allow students to bring opportunities to them, and help the student with applications and provide support in the form of check-ins and information sessions.

“They make sure you’re safe. They’re very helpful,” said Jared.

Similarly, AIESEC provides students with the opportunity to go abroad and develop themselves both personally and professionally. The Global Internship Program, in particular, places fourth year undergraduate students and recent graduates in a 6 week to 12 month overseas internship, where they are integrated into the business’ operations. These passionate, motivated individuals can provide the business with a global youth perspective. There is also constant communication between the AIESEC committee in that region and the intern and the company to ensure that all parties are having the best experience possible.

International experience is always an asset when applying to jobs. Globalization is key in today’s economy. It is very difficult for businesses to survive on the economy alone. Small, medium, or large, they should be thinking about their company in a global perspective—and something that will give a company an advantage is hiring someone who has been to another country, who has learned their language, and has been immersed in their culture. They can leverage their international experience.

Above all, the soft skills that develop from being thrown into an unfamiliar country are very applicable in the workplace. Employers are always looking for good, persistent problem solvers with high emotional intelligence, because they will be able to make the decisions that will help the company succeed.

“You might react to [situations] in a more positive way. You’ll be able to deal with stresses and curveballs more easily,” Jared said. “It [also] helps in trying to understand people. And it gives you a lot of perspective, I think.”

So why hire someone with international experience? They are positive, optimistic risk-takers who are eager to tackle any problems that arise. They can easily adapt to sudden disruptions, and they can apply the skills they developed through their international experience to the workplace. Lastly, they are always willing to challenge themselves, to develop themselves further.

When asked if he would go abroad again, Jared eagerly replied: “yes, of course. I’d love to go somewhere else that I don’t know.”

Four reasons why you should start thinking globally

With Startup Weekend having just passed by, launching new companies is on the mind of many entrepreneurs in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. As the owner of a startup, you may not be thinking about the effects of globalization on your company just yet, but it’s something you shouldn’t wait to do. Here are four reasons why:

  1. A high tech startup must be able to compete with all the Financing your startup is no longer confined to your local bank.other startups around the world. Every day, new ideas are pursued and you can only stay ahead of the game by keeping an eye on your competitors.
  2. Financing your startup is no longer confined to your local bank. You can try financing from people around the world with websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Your backers come from all around the globe and can provide valuable support and/or feedback for your product or service.
  3. Globalization trends can spark new ideas for your company. This could mean anything from incorporating the trend in your work to partnering with a company across the globe to distribute your product. The westernization of cultures has affected almost every single country. You can take advantage of emerging markets that want to appeal to Western markets by partnering with them. On the other hand, today, the reversing of culture is becoming popular as well. Eastern customs are gaining popularity in the US.
  4. An international network can only provide a startup with more tricks to pull out of a hat. Although you may not believe you need it at the moment, international contacts can provide resources and information if you expand. The westernization of cultures has affected almost every single country.A particularly important asset to have is a contact who knows about business etiquette and the culture to help you navigate around town. Startups are always going to face ups and downs. Minimize your errors and put your best foot forward by learning how to market your brand, communicate in new markets, and be flexible in your operations with an expanded world view.

If you understand the importance of considering globalization when planning the next steps of your company, you may be wondering what resources you could use to make your expansion successful. Here, we have compiled some resources and tips you may find useful.


  • The Canadian Digital Media Network has a Soft Landing Program that could guide your expansion in international markets.
  • Participate in the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, which takes place in over 140 countries and provides opportunities for you to network with fellow entrepreneurs and obtain resources.
  • AIESEC offers companies a chance to bring in international youth talent—an excellent way to get a new perspective and some new ideas into the workplace.


  • Hire language skills – Translation for business meetings and advertising alike is necessary. Make sure the translator is able to convey the right tone so you don’t step on any toes.
  • Start with low risk ventures – A new venture probably hasn’t caught the attention of the larger firms yet. Take advantage of this by carving out a niche market. By avoiding the barriers to entry set up by large corporations, the success of your product in the niche market will set up a solid foundation for your growth in the foreign market.
  • Do a lot of research – The importance of quality research must be stressed. Good research will prevent mistakes that will be fatal to your startup. Make sure you know as much as possible about the external environment and analyze your company’s internal workings to ensure a smooth launch in the new country.
  • Get help from a culture advisor – Similar to the necessity of a good translator, a cultural advisor can help you set the right tone with partners, manufacturers, and customers. One way to learn about another culture is through an AIESEC intern, who can teach your organization about their home country’s customs among other skills.

For more information on hiring an AIESEC intern, contact Julia Engio at julia.engio@aiesec.net or (226) 978-2522. You can also visit the AIESEC website for more information.

Are you planning on expanding your company internationally this year?

Ready, Set, Global! Taking your local success to the next levelAIESEC Laurier is hosting Ready, Set, Global! Taking your local success to the next level on Thursday, January 15, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm at the Tannery Event Centre.

Local businesses are invited to attend this evening of fascinating discussion about how to ease the process of global expansion through accessing local resources, such as technology and incubator programs.

Keynote speakers are Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre, Lisa Cashmore, Manager of the Soft Landing Program at Canadian Digital Media Network. and Catharine Gerhard, Senior Business Development Officer at Canada’s Technology Triangle.

Our speakers have answered questions about globalization in anticipation of this event. You can find Paul’s answers here, Lisa’s answers here, and Catharine’s answers here.

One drink ticket will be provided per person; and fruit and cheese platters will be available.

Today is your last day to register online! Tickets can be purchased at http://local2global.eventbrite.com. They can also be purchased at the door for $25 in cash only.

Join the conversation on Twitter with @AIESECLaurier using #local2global!

Q&A with Catharine Gerhard

Catharine Gerhard, Senior Business Development Officer at Canada's Technology TriangleReady, Set, Global! is quickly approaching. In anticipation of the upcoming event, Catharine Gerhard answers some questions about globalization.

What does “going global” mean to you?

To me, “going global” means several things. It means expanding your business brand internationally and exporting your product. It means establishing a global operation. It means developing strategic relationships globally via distributors, suppliers, venture capitalists, and joint ventures. It means having an open mind, considering the impact of global markets, and developing good strategic relationships.

Why is it important for a company to think about globalization?

We are globally connected. The 2008 global economic downturn exemplifies this. The shift of economic power to Asian markets, in particular, is not one we can ignore. Companies need to pay attention to the location of growing economic markets, demographic trends and leverage country trade agreements beyond NAFTA.  Canada currently has free trade agreements with 10 countries and has begun negotiations with more than 60 others!

At what stage should a business consider “going global”?

Because of how globally connected and impacted industries are today, a business should try and build an international business strategy early on. The focus should answer questions such as “where are the key markets that my product is in demand?” and “how can I align myself over time in my business relationships, staff, and supply chain to reach these international goals?”.  It won’t happen overnight, but business decisions can bear this international intent in mind and support the company’s deliberate approach towards internationalization.

What is the first step in taking your local success to the next level?

Market research and planning are key. Where are the key markets for your product/service? Who are the competitors? What is your competitive advantage?

It is also important to prepare a business plan and identify key partnerships and resources. This means developing relationships with potential customers, partners and understanding how business is done in the target countries. Along the way, there are many resources available, including the Canadian and Ontario trade commissioner located in international markets, trade and business associations, incubators and in-market personnel that can support. In the end, what still hasn’t changed is the importance of relationships.

How do you overcome any language or cultural barriers?

Have an open mind. Take the time to appreciate cultural differences and learn important cultural traditions. Know your limitations and partner with or hiring personnel/companies with in-market experience to navigate in these markets.

Do you have any more questions about going #local2global? Join Paul Salvini, Catharine Gerhard, and Lisa Cashmore at Ready, Set, Global! from 5:30 – 8:00 pm on January 15. Purchase your tickets now!

Q&A with Paul Salvini

Paul Salvini, CEO of Accelerator Centre, is speaking at Ready, Set, Global! on January 15!With Ready, Set, Global! quickly approaching, Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre, answers some questions about globalization.

What does “going global” mean to you?

“Going global” means taking your business beyond your local market. It can be inbound (such as establishing a global supply chain) or it could be outbound (such as establishing a global market for your product or service). For some companies, going global is not only essential, it is something that needs to be planned from day one. Depending on your business, “going global” might mean building a global network, forming global relationships, or dealing with global regulatory issues – especially when staff and physical goods are moving from one country to another.

Why is it important for a company in Kitchener-Waterloo to think about globalization?

It is important for any company these days to think about their business in a global context. Even if you are a local vendor serving a local market, you still have to be aware of what’s happening in a global context.

How has technology impacted globalization?

Technology has made it a lot easier to work globally and has made the world feel like a much smaller place. Information can move quickly from one place to another and it is now possible for someone to have a global impact without having a global footprint. Of course, there is a downside, too: your competition is now global so Canadian businesses – especially small- and medium-sized enterprises — need to learn to use technology more effectively if they want to compete.

What is the first step in taking your local success to the next level?

To reach an outbound global market, it often helps to have an in-country champion for your product. Often a young company will form a relationship with an early customer who becomes an evangelist in the new market. The most successful companies are those that create such loyalty among their customer base as to turn every customer into a salesperson.

How do you overcome any language or cultural barriers?

As a richly multicultural country, Canada has a tremendous advantage when it comes to going global. We have an international labour force, and, here in KW, we have a strong pool of talented international students who represent just about every major country in the world. Canada’s international reputation also provides companies with a strong competitive advantage. More often than not, people out there like us!

Want to hear more? Ready, Set, Global! is only a month away! Save the date and purchase your tickets here.

Q&A with Lisa Cashmore

Lisa Cashmore, Manager of the Soft Landing Program at CDMN, will be speaking at Ready, Set, Global on January 15!In anticipation of Ready, Set, Global! on January 15, Lisa Cashmore answers a few questions about globalization.

What does “going global” mean to you?

“Going global” isn’t only for large enterprises. It is an essential activity that every Canadian company must perform to scale their business. “Going global” is not only entering a new, foreign market to close revenue or secure an investment, but also a matter of understanding how the global marketplace will impact your business and what opportunities and challenges it will present. Global awareness allows you to adapt, innovate, and form an effective strategic plan for your company growth.

Why is it important for a company to think about globalization?

Growing your business internationally has many benefits. It can contribute significantly to a company’s revenue, productivity, resilience, profitability, and longevity. It helps mitigate the risks of being bound solely to the domestic market. International sales often lead to product development, the adoption of new technologies, innovation, and production efficiencies. There are only 35 million people living in Canada, so the majority of your total addressable market will likely fall outside of the country.

When does a start-up know it is ready to go global?

There are a number of things that need to be considered before entering a new, foreign market. Ideally, you will have already proven your value proposition in your domestic market.  If you have identified a potential customer overseas, created some interest, and feel confident that the opportunity is solid, then go for it!  In most cases, though, I would not enter an international market as an exploratory mission. There is so much that you can do from your desk to ensure success before traveling abroad. Heading to New York City because others have told you “it is the place to be” is not the best approach.

What is the first step in taking your local success to the next level?

There are so many things you can do to get the most out of your time in-market: prearrange meetings, demo your product virtually, have Skype calls, work with the Canadian Consulate and Trade Commissioners.  Ensure that your product meets all of the regulatory requirements of the country. For example, does it need to be translated?  Consider whether your team has the capability to handle the new business should you secure it.  Will you be able to handle customer issues in a different language and/or time zone?

How do you overcome any language or cultural barriers?

Utilizing resources like AIESEC students and the Trade Commissioners services is truly beneficial.  The more you can prepare yourself in advance, the better you will fare in a new market.  Knowing things like when best to schedule meetings, meeting protocol, and even body language can have a huge impact on your success.

Want to hear more? Purchase your tickets for Ready, Set, Global! here.

KW Spotlight: Jennifer Moss named International Female Entrepreneur of the Year

[SPOTLIGHT] Jennifer Moss - PhotoOn November 14, the winners of the 2014 Stevie Awards for Women in Business were announced. The annual awards dinner was held at the Marriot Hotel in New York, New York.

That evening, Jennifer Moss was named International Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the “10 employees and under” category. This award is given to women who found their own companies.

Moss is the co-founder and CMO of Plasticity Labs, a local startup that understands the importance of employee satisfaction. Based in the Accelerator Centre in Kitchener, the company’s main goal is to provide businesses with workplace engagement software.[SPOTLIGHT] Jennifer Moss - Stevie Awards

Her passion for her work shines through in her post-award-acceptance interview.

“This is a moment where I get to just really enjoy all the things I coach in other people. I get to enjoy the happiness for myself.”

If you have have any suggestions or would like to be featured on our blog, send us a tweet @AIESECLaurier or use the hashtag #KWspotlight.

KW Spotlight: Iain Klugman, Fostering Entrepreneurial Spirit

[SPOTLIGHT] Iain Klugman - Startup Canada LogoOn October 19, 2014, Iain Klugman was announced as an Advisor to the Startup Canada Communities Program.

Startup Canada strives to connect the increasing number of entrepreneurs in the country, and provide them with an environment where they can thrive. As an Advisor, Iain will play a part in building a pan-Canadian infrastructure that places a heavier focus on entrepreneurship.

He will also “directly mentor and support the growing network of entrepreneurs and economic development professionals who are leveraging the network to ignite entrepreneurship.”

Klugman  Iain067.JPGIain is not at all unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of young businesses. He is the current CEO of Communitech, an innovation hub located in Kitchener. A perfect match for the Kitchener-Waterloo area’s entrepreneurial spirit, Communitech essentially provides a “first home” for small businesses that are starting to grow in size. Iain has led it to “become one of North America’s leading tech enabling organizations.”

He will be featured at Startup Canada Day on the Hill, taking place in Ottawa on November 26, 2014.

You can read more about Iain’s new role here.

If you have have any suggestions or would like to be featured on our blog, send us a tweet @AIESECLaurier or use the hashtag #KWspotlight.

Introducing… KW Spotlight!

The Kitchener-Waterloo region is buzzing with business spirit. It is known to be an entrepreneurial powerhouse, an area where businesses, large and small, can develop and grow. In such an innovative place, there are always interesting people doing interesting things—and AIESEC Laurier wants to recognize them.

Every Thursday, we will publish a short blog post that highlights what an awesome individual or business is currently up to.

The first installment in this series will be published tomorrow morning. Stay tuned to find out who we will feature on our first KW Spotlight!

If you have any suggestions or would like to be featured on our blog, tweet us @AIESECLaurier.

How to keep your employees motivated: Advice from Diana Cheptene

Diana Cheptene [FOCII]Diana Cheptene recently wrote an article highlighting six important lessons she learned during her time as President of AIESEC at McGill University. Each and every one of these lessons is applicable in the workplace, particularly when building team and organizational culture.

Providing employees with a strong support network is key, as “human connections strengthen collaboration and unity within large organizations.”Diana Cheptene [Picture]

That said, taking the time build a rapport with your employees can go a long way. By empowering them and recognizing and rewarding their efforts, they will feel a stronger connection with their employer. It is also imperative to give them the opportunity to go to “in-house workshops, external conferences, and training events” where they can “become better versions of themselves.”

When employees feel as if their employer is truly invested in them, they feel more motivated to produce quality work.

Diana’s article underlines the fact that it is not only through exchanges that AIESEC members develop themselves. Those who work within the organization are always given the opportunity (and encouraged) to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. As a result, AIESEC members gain valuable experience that can be drawn upon when they move into the work force.