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Traveling Abroad Is a Good Indicator of Interest in International Business

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 6:18 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

The 2nd Annual Global Career Bridge event took place on October 18, 2019 and drew students from 4 local universities (Park, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and Benedictine College). This group of amazing students spent the day touring 3 international businesses, networking with professionals in international business, asking thoughtful questions, and contemplating their own career trajectories.

Left to right: Mary Odom, Joseph McKirahan, Gustavo Fernandez Agreda, Connor Riley, Gabriel Truby, Hans Peter, Claire Westra, Alyson Schroer,
Sydney van Ophem, Reghan Callahan, Kevin McGraw, Nhan Nguyen, Stefanie Rettenbacher, and Ruiping Ramboldt

This will be a 3-part series focusing on the following aspects of the event:

  1. The college students
  2. The hosting companies
  3. The hiring managers’ best advice for students

Out of the twelve students that attended, three of them granted interviews during the event. What is surprising about them is the variety of majors these students are pursuing, everything from accounting to political science, and the more obvious major of International Studies. What is not so surprising is that all three of these interviewees have traveled abroad either with family or through formal study abroad programs.

First, is Sydney van Ophem (pronounced aupem) who is a Junior at the University of Kansas. 

Sydney van Ophem, Double Major: Accounting & French

Sydney started studying French in first grade and has done extensive international travel including France, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and the Baltic Seas. It has helped her to be fluent in French, but it doesn’t hurt that she has family in the Netherlands. Her goal is to relocate to Europe to work abroad in accounting or finance such as auditing or taxes, and eventually enter the C-level of a company.

Extracurricular activities that have helped her to develop leadership skills include a sorority Vice President of Philanthropy and the Treasurer of the French Club. She wanted to attend the Global Career Bridge to meet employers and see how Kansas City companies operate their global business activities and how the trade wars are affecting their business.

Next is Gabriel Truby who is a Senior at the University of Missouri and will graduate in December 2019.

Gabriel “Gabe” Truby
Major: International Studies, Minors: Geography, Spanish, & Business & a Certificate in Multicultural Studies

Gabe’s college experience has been nonlinear in that he took a year of from his studies to work and further hone his career goals. After 2 years of studying at Mizzou, his mother was involved in car accident in Costa Rica where she lives and was hospitalized. So he decided to find a job and take some time to discover his interests and direction in his career. While working near the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown, he got inspired by the business people that convened for meetings there. He used his customer service skills to land a sales position with no prior experience. During this time, he developed his people skills and customer-centric focus.

When he applied to Mizzou again, he changed his major to International Studies and dedicated himself to his studies. He became the New Member President in the Pi Sigma Epsilon fraternity and competed in their sales competition. Then he applied for the study abroad program and was accepted for a program in Spain and Germany. Since he had been studying Spanish, it was the perfect trip for him. The study trip included touring companies in Berlin and Barcelona.

Gabriel eventually wants to visit India and Japan to get a different perspective on the way business is done and the cultural ideals that are not westernized. His career goals are focused on global trade as well finding a good work-life balance. Today’s event was an opportunity he didn’t want to miss because seizing opportunities is in his DNA, especially now that he’s in a job search mode.

And last but not least, Joseph McKirahan who is a Senior at the University of Kansas and will graduate this December.


Joseph McKirahan, Major: Political Science, Minor: History

Joseph chose political science as his major because he likes how governments interact with each other, and knowing history is a key part of understanding those interactions. He was selected while in high school to attend Illinois Boys State and was elected as Mayor. The experience inspired him to pursue political science.

Although he doesn’t plan to run for office, he aspires to become a lobbyist on Capitol Hill so that he can have an impact on industries that can only thrive when lawmakers consider the unintended consequences of regulations. He decided to attend today’s event to get an understanding of the business aspects of the economy, how companies operate, and how the political environment affects businesses. He learned that there are many differences between what he’s learned in school about supply chain logistics and how it actually operates in the real world.

One particular college course on the European Union piqued his interest on international relations, especially the historical context of its formation and evolution over the years. He’s been able to travel with his family to several countries already including Germany, Poland, Austria, and the United Kingdom and loved experiences different cultures and see ancient architecture. He’d really like to visit southeast Asian cultures to experience the art and culture. As a Lord of the Rings fan, New Zealand is also on his bucket list. He plans to leverage is travel experiences in his current job search that he hopes to land by the new year.

The next blog post will feature the three companies that hosted the students and the unique aspects of their global trade operations. If you would like to visit with any of these students about internships or job openings at your company, please contact Mary Odom at office@itcgkc.org.

© 2018 International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City

ITCGKC is a 501(c)3 Organization


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