Dr. Martin Meznar, associate dean for international programs, is passionate about globalizing his students, noting both the cultural and professional benefits.
“Doors open up when you have international expertise,” Meznar said.
According to Meznar, companies recruiting at Appalachian don’t typically have specific international business departments. Instead, international business students pitch their skills to marketing departments, finance departments and other general business areas like other candidates. Luckily for students within the International Business program, they have an upper hand because their international expertise, including a heightened cultural awareness and proficiency in a second language, makes them much more enticing to employers.
Fortunately, the major lends itself to this, letting students have some autonomy when it comes to building their major, requiring only that they learn a second language, live abroad and take two classes that every one in the major must take. Beyond that, they choose from a list of electives to tailor their experience to suit their goals.
Meznar hopes that students within the program will leave more culturally enlightened than they arrived, acting as emissaries for global awareness back in the states. Specifically, he has expanded the focus of study abroad teaching opportunities beyond Europe and into the developing world.
He is particularly interested in exposing students to something beyond their comfort zone and stretching their thinking by introducing them to “culturally and economically distant” areas such as Brazil, Thailand, Malawi and Cuba, among others.
Beyond their social impact, these trips serve as a valuable time for faculty to bond with their students on a deeper level, throwing them into situations together that inevitably spark interesting conversation. Meznar muses on his time spent with students on a riverboat in the middle of the Amazon.
“My fondest memories are talking with students on these boats about everything from the environment to economics,” Meznar says. He describes the scene as a “mutually enlightening setting.”
“The world is not as it was,” Meznar says. “We live in a global community.” He is adamant about driving this point home to every student that walks through his door. The international business program will offer a sound education, but more than that, it will open up students to an entire world that they may have never known without it.