As he stood on the 11th floor balcony of the Westin Hotel in New Orleans, gazing out at the majestic Mississippi River, University of Southern Mississippi student Jace Bounds could only shake his head in wonder.
“I never could have imagined having an opportunity like this when I first came to school at USM,” said Bounds, a Picayune, Miss., native. “Being a part of the International Business program has been a very rewarding and enriching experience that I would recommend to any student who’s considering a degree in this area.”
Bounds and a group of fellow seniors majoring in International Business spent Monday, March 21 in the Crescent City attending a business luncheon that featured United Kingdom Ambassador to the United States Sir Nigel Sheinwald and touring the massive Port of New Orleans. The unique field trip was arranged by their instructor, assistant professor John Lambert.
Senior Patrick Murray became so enamored with the idea of pursuing a degree in international business that he changed his major from psychology. The Bogalusa, La., native viewed the New Orleans trip as an invaluable networking opportunity.
“My goal is to work overseas in some capacity,” said Murray. “I’ve actually applied for a couple of jobs in Great Britain. I’m extremely interested in learning about how business works and thrives in different cultures and this class has given me even more motivation to follow that career plan.”
Sheinwald served as the keynote speaker during a business luncheon dubbed “Minding our Business: The Importance of Open Markets” sponsored by the World Trade Center of New Orleans. Sheinwald emphasized the United Kingdom’s business relationship with the State of Louisiana that has seen a total of $2.5 billion invested, creating more than 7,000 high-quality and high-paying jobs.
To fully understand the scope of international commerce one need look no further than the Port of New Orleans and the Southern Miss contingent got a chance to see how this bustling facility operates on a daily basis. The port’s operation includes 22 million square feet of cargo handling area and more than six million square feet of covered storage area. The Port of New Orleans is a diverse general cargo facility, handling containerized cargo such as apparel, food products and consumer merchandize. The port’s general cargo volume averages about 8.6 million tons per year.
Lambert said that trips such as the New Orleans tour give students a rare glimpse behind the curtain of international business and creates a win-win scenario for all involved.
“I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to see the interest level these students have shown in my class,” said Lambert. “The idea is to get them out of the classroom and expose them to real-world examples of how international business actually works. And to their credit, they’ve taken full advantage of these opportunities by networking as much as possible and asking all the appropriate questions.”
Senior Clair Parker has been focused on a career in international business since her 9th grade year at Biloxi High School. Last July she spent a month serving an internship in Brazil. Set to graduate in May, Parker eagerly awaits the possibility of working overseas.
“First of all, I love to travel, so the idea of working abroad definitely interests me,” said Parker. “I would love to do something in international sales.”
Parker credits Lambert for helping close the prodigious gap between classroom curriculum and potential employment.
“This is my second event of this kind with Dr. Lambert and I can tell you that he definitely thinks outside the norm,” said Parker. “Rather than simply talking about what to expect and how to plan for a career, he tries to put you in a position to see how business truly works. Thanks to this class I feel like I already have a leg in the door to fulfilling my goals.”
To learn more about the Department of Management and International Business at Southern Miss call 601.266.4673 or visit http://www.usm.edu/business/management-international_business