Many postsecondary students spend four years or more to obtain one academic credential, be it a diploma or a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
Sarah Ashley Hannah, on the other hand, managed to collect two sets of letters after her name in just 12 months.
She did this in 2014-15 by enrolling in a joint graduate program in international management developed by Capilano University and the University of Hertfordshire in England.
Hannah met the prerequisite of having an undergraduate degree; she obtained this in business administration from Capilano University.
In the 12-month joint graduate program, she spent the fall semester at Capilano University and the spring semester living in residence with 11 flatmates and attending classes at the British university.
“The accommodation was great,” Hannah recalled in a phone interview with the Straight. “We lived on campus two or three minutes from all the classes. You get your own bedroom, your own bathroom. The only thing that’s really shared is the kitchen.”
After attending both institutions, she was required to complete a dissertation. Hannah had a choice: do a research-based project on an aspect of international business or prepare a business plan.
“I wrote a dissertation on corporate social responsibility as a strategic advantage in the Canadian banking sector,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do a dissertation that was strategy-based, because that’s an interest of mine.”
As a result, she received an international management graduate diploma from Capilano University and a master of science in international business from the University of Hertfordshire.
For Hannah, one of the joys was meeting students from around the world, both at Capilano University and while studying in the U.K. She recalled forming friendships with students from China, Nigeria, Germany, France, Jordan, and other countries.
She believes that anyone who goes through the program and is willing to move to another country to study is demonstrating to a future employer that they’re adaptable. Once she was based in England, she was able to travel to a dozen other countries in Europe.
“I took trains, I took low-cost air, I even took a cruise,” Hannah said with a laugh. “There are also lots of day trips, which are supported by the school. I went up to Cambridge. I went up to Oxford.”
The dean of Capilano University’s faculty of business and professional studies, Halia Vallardes, is an expert in international logistics and trade. Last year, she told the Straight that one survey showed that 53 percent of people who studied and lived abroad said that this experience helped them land a job.
“Just by being in this program and living in two countries within a year, you are developing your cross-cultural management skills,” Vallardes said.
A Harvard Business Review article last year forecast that a growing number of skilled workers will be crossing national boundaries to do their jobs in the coming years.
“Rather than assuming we’ll work in one location, in our native culture, we will need new skills, attitudes, and behaviors that help us work across cultures,” the paper’s author, Tsedal Neeley, wrote.
For Hannah, international experience is essential for anyone working in business, particularly as the world moves away from the hegemonic influence of the United States on the global economy.
“This experience with my master’s has me definitely considering an internationally based PhD,” she said.More