All Posts By

Caroline Witzel

Taking Your Career Worldwide: A Recruiting Guide

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Saying you want to work in international business has a great ring to it. But what does that entail? There are tons of job opportunities in IB to be checked out, no matter your industry or function interests. Let’s delve into what it means to work in international business.

International business is defined as commercial transactions that occur across country borders. In this day and age, almost every business conducts some international business but to different extents. People working in international business are generally those that are handling relations with foreign entities and strategizing to enter and optimize these markets.

Where are these jobs?

Global and international employers are often based in large cities throughout the countries they operate in – which makes it easier to do business on a larger scale (usually the premise of international business). London, England offers the largest number of international graduate vacancies.

Who would I work for?

You can work in almost any industry and find an internationally focused job that works for you. Any company that sells goods or services internationally, has foreign clientele, or sources products internationally needs somebody with IB acumen to handle their business. In particular, growth-stage businesses often pursue international markets as a means for expansion.

What would I be doing?

The relations a company has with foreign entities have to be managed on every single level of business.

  • Finance – CFOs can finance projects internationally, investment advisors can give tips on foreign currency, and portfolio managers can include international assets.
  • Accounting – due to the complexity of international policies and currencies, corporations need extra help handling their statements while analyzing operations, consolidating results and ensuring compliance. Managerial accounting in this area involves even more strategy. You can also work for an accounting firm and complete international or tax audits.
  • Marketing – when operations span multiple countries, a manager at an MNC will have to decide how to strategize for one or all areas.
  • Consulting – management consultants often travel for work and provide recommendations to MNCs with complex, borderless problems
  • Business development – when it comes to expansion, international sales representatives must work to create unique client relationships through communication and travel.

What skills will I need?

  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills. Businesses that work internationally have complex problems that must be solved creatively.
  • Research and analysis skills. Due to the broader range of information and economies you’re spanning, there’s a lot of ambiguity and the path may not yet be tread. Learn to find the information you need.
  • Communicating with different audiences. Being able to tailor a message to a specific group, considering their demographic and culture, is important to foster international relationships. This involves how formal and informal you are, what mediums you use to communicate, and how to address people.
  • Keeping up to date on technology. As the world progresses at a quickening rate, it’s key to be up to date and ready to adapt to the ways people are working and communicating.
  • Team working skills. You’ll be collaborating with people in your own office and across the world – having team working skills will make it easier to get the other cultural stuff down too.
  • Appreciation of cultural differences. These can be frustrating, but understanding the differences and their merits means you know what to expect and how to take advantage.
  • Planning and management skills. With so many moving parts, you need to be able to account for complicating factors like policies or time zones.
  • Learning a new language. If you have a second language, you can be a huge asset when communicating with specific countries.

Many international business courses encourage international study or work experience so you may also be able to demonstrate transferable skills such as learning a new language, flexibility, cultural awareness and curiosity.

What courses can I take to prepare?

It’s a great idea to take courses that expand your understanding of international landscape, along with being proficient in your preferred function. These courses can include macroeconomics, international trade, international business culture, and communications. Here are some Smith courses that you can take.

  • Comm 353 Managing across cultures
  • Comm 373 International negotiations
  • Comm 374 International business strategy
  • Comm 375 International business
  • Comm 376 Doing business in the Asia-Pacific rim
  • Comm 398 Business, government and the global economy
  • Comm 471 Advanced topics in international business and CSR
  • Comm 472 Business and development
  • MIB: Masters in international business



Global Trends: Fintech Breaks Down Barriers

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With platform businesses cropping up everywhere (think “Uber for insert item here!”) decentralization is a hot topic across all economies, and for good reason. It’s disrupting nearly every industry, by eliminating intermediaries and using the power of connection to make more efficient use of our resources. Meet Fintech – “Uber for money” – it’s revolutionizing the way we pay each other and businesses, and opening doors to further opportunity.


What is Fintech?

Fintech is defined as computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services. Examples of fintech include simple things like mobile banking and e-transfer capabilities, all the way to credit-scoring applications, international payment systems and blockchain networks. In general, these technologies are making all banking simpler and faster.


How is it being used?

Fintech helps enterprises and people navigate increasingly complex banking systems. Such softwares are becoming more mainstream: according to EY’s Fintech Adoption Index, one third of consumers utilize two or more fintech services on a regular basis, and these consumers are increasingly aware of the changes it makes to their daily lives.

Financial technology has essentially accelerated access to services and transactions. Thanks to easy transfers and a larger network, lending has become more accessible for both consumers and businesses, in cases from peer to peer to crowd-sourcing campaigns (a new phenomenon enabled by fintech). Payments have become easier, faster and safer for online purchases as technology improves.

Some softwares have features especially geared toward businesses that work internationally. One useful capability is a service that takes care of currency conversions for you – for example, if a Canadian were buying from an American store online, the service ingests the Canadian cash paid and sends corresponding American cash to the company. Market entry has become easier as it’s no longer a necessity to open a bank account in every country and deal with all of the regulations and paperwork to accept payments.


How will it impact companies that do business internationally?

Accessibility to customers.

By minimizing barriers to entry of markets, and making transactions easier for international customers, businesses can gain more profitable access to an attractive target market that may not otherwise have been reachable.

Lower fees.

As the volume of international transactions increases, fees are likely to decrease over time. Additionally, the third party fintech software companies on the rise are able to offer lower fees than larger banks due to their unique business models. For example, is able to offer cheaper transfers than an international wire transfer, and is available across 25 countries.

The impact is biggest on small and medium enterprises, who didn’t have the infrastructure to do this before. Developments in financial technology are breaking down bureaucratic barriers and making it easier for small businesses to have a global presence.


Check out a few prominent fintech firms that have made tangible changes for international businesses:



Described as “the new standard in online payments”, Stripe focuses on being an easily integrated product for internet businesses. International companies benefit from Stripe’s help with international payment methods and compliance. Stripe is available for revenues across 25 countries. They work with financial institutions and regulators to take care of the dirty work, and put your platform into place.

“Removing the barriers to online commerce helps more new businesses get started, expedites growth for existing companies, and increases economic output and trade globally.” – Stripe



WorldFirst is an SaaS based company that positions itself as an expert in international money transfer, boasting quick transfers and low exchange rates. One of its services, the World Account, cuts the cost and time of opening many international bank accounts for SMEs – usually a perk that only large MNCs would benefit from – allowing them better access to global commerce.

“Nobody has got a universal platform to allow anyone, anywhere to sell to anyone else anywhere yet, but that is what we are working on building.” – WorldFirst



Kreditech provides financial loan solutions to entities without a credit score. This can include micro loans to consumer lenders, as well as lending-as-a-service to e-commerce websites which can increase conversion rates.

“Thanks to our unique scoring technology and digital lending process, formerly underbanked customers receive offers and payouts 24/7.” – Kreditech



Sources: International Fintech, The Guardian, Fintech, World Economic Forum, The Next Web.


Internships Abroad: Singapore

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Name: Harkirat Singh Ahluwalia

Year: 2019

Company: Validus Capital

Position: Intern

Country: Singapore (Click here for InternSG, Singapore’s number one internship platform)

Two weeks ago, I got to speak with Hark, a former QCIB member and Queen’s Commerce student. Hark worked as an intern in Singapore last year and sha

red with me his favourite parts, and most challenging parts, of an internship abroad. Read along to hear how the culture and adventure influenced his work experience.

To start, what made you seek an internship abroad?

In second year, I was late to recruit for a summer internship and only started looking in January. I searched for 2 months, and in March, most of the job postings that were available weren’t aligned with the experiences I was looking for. The decision was between staying in Toronto and doing a job I didn’t feel that I was best suited for, or finding something abroad and trying something new.

I also missed Asia because I hadn’t been back in so long. I was born in India, and then moved with my family to the Philippines, Malaysia, Dubai (UAE) and Jakarta (Indonesia) before finally settling in Toronto. Asia has always been home for me.


How did you find the job?

In terms of the job search process, I talked to my parents about my options and interests. It turned out my dad knew someone at a firm in Singapore, and was able to connect me. We had several conversations, and after a few weeks the connection offered me a job. So, I told my friends I was going to Singapore.


What was the preparation like?

One important thing to know is that you need a special work visa to work abroad. There are only a certain number of visas given for international internships, and the process takes some time – so this was pretty important to take care of as soon as possible. The career centre (CAC) was able to write me a validating letter and was really helpful during the process. In terms of culture, I generally knew what to expect.


But you hadn’t lived in Singapore before – so something must have thrown a curveball at you.

Yes, the first few weeks were interesting. I walked off the plane and thought “where do I stay, what do I do?” While I was finding accommodations, I was lucky enough to be able to stay at my dad’s friend’s place. Singapore residences are really expensive so I contacted a few real estate agents. They thought that since I was technically an expat, I would be able to afford an expensive place – they first tried showing me one-bedroom apartments for $3500 CAD. As one can imagine, that was just “slightly” out of my budget. After a week I finally found a somewhat affordable option to share a flat with three other people.


Tell me about your job. Was anything surprising there?

On day one I showed up in a full suit and tie…and everyone at the office was dressed relatively casually. I had assumed that business formal was the way to go for a professional internship. One co worker said to me, “Hark, you look as if you belong on Wall Street. When you come back tomorrow, no suit, no tie.” I eventually started showing up in jeans and a QZ.


Wow, I haven’t done a lot of research but wouldn’t have expected that.

I hadn’t either, but it makes sense – Singapore is too hot to be walking around in a suit and tie.

Otherwise, Singaporeans give really direct feedback on things which I liked much more than the way we skirt around things in Commerce groups. Everyone was really professional and smart – I was very lucky to work so closely with such knowledgeable people.


How did working in Singapore give you a better job opportunity?

Singapore is great in terms of innovation, especially fintech. I wanted to experience some of that growth and to learn what the excitement was about. P2P SME lending – the industry that Validus operates in – is relatively new to Asia. Developed markets already have established players, while in Asia, many firms are in the start-up phase.

In terms of the work itself, I was given a ton of autonomy which forced me to think for myself. This experience is certainly possible at any type of firm in any geography, but personally, the combination of living and working with limited guidance made me learn a lot.


What was the biggest challenge for you?

Living independently was a huge jump – you need to find things to do on your own and make time for the gym, meals, etc. Establishing a routine was huge. I also had to make new friends and meet new people. Thankfully my girlfriend was in Singapore for a few months just before her exchange, so that was a great thing! Plus I made friends with my co workers and got drinks with them – it was awesome to learn from them and get to know them better.


What is your biggest recommendation for people who are interested in an internship abroad?

In terms of looking for a job, try to be really open. It’s hard enough to get a job at home, let alone get a job abroad in another country. One can learn new things from any job in any place, but the biggest learning from working abroad is from actually living in a different country and learning how to integrate.

If you’re considering working abroad you have to be ready for ambiguity: learn to do difficult things, find food, find accommodations, and handle your own life. It’s different to exchange because there’s no set program with scheduled social activities. It is a unique experience and it made me feel a lot more independent, and as if I actually had control over my life – I was finally ‘adulting’ of some sorts.