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Matthew Wilson, 27, is taking his MBA at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. He plans to specialize in International Business with a minor specialization in Entrepreneurship. Matthew's interest in International Business comes from years working in Japan and experiences abroad in Asia and Europe.

March has been full, with case studies, tests, projects, presentations, marketing competitions and job-hunting to deal with. It has been easily the busiest academic month of my life. However, with end of term quickly approaching. so is one of the most important portions of the MBA program for my classmates and me.

High on the list of importance for many HR managers is international experience. For many, though, this is easier said than done. But some lucky students can get that exposure through their studies.

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From a learning perspective, often the most valuable kinds of academic work you can do are projects that expose you to various types of comprehensive business analyses and if those can be combined with international experiences, then all they are the more valuable. As I have said in an earlier post link, for young business people, experience often trumps education. So when a program integrates professional experience into the curriculum, it leads to projects that could very well inspire a future career, to a new business network or to helping you get your foot in the door of a highly competitive field, such as management consulting. On top of that, if the project can give you an understanding of how to operate within a foreign market, that's a rare and valuable experience.

I think about all of these things as I prepare to travel to Mumbai and New Dehli in about two weeks to undergo an international integrated management exercise.

Working for VIH Aviation Group, a Vancouver Island-based company specializing in helicopter services; I will be part of a group of MBAs who are conducting a market assessment for the company, looking at future business opportunities for them in various sectors.

From a student perspective, it is a one-of-a kind experience. The project covers a diverse mix of business areas that we have covered so far in our program, including international business, marketing management, consulting, managerial economics, and business law.

Aside from the business analysis and market research, the co-ordination of a large, comprehensive project with more than 20 contributors will be an exercise in itself. The project is already under way as five separate groups of students have been broken up into teams and have been undertaking market research for weeks now in various different areas. After a two-week stint in India, which will include several meetings with various clients, groups will have a final week to co-ordinate their efforts before presenting to the client at the end of April.

It isn't just the project that offers international experience. There are 10 different nations represented in our class alone, which gives us a chance to work with people who come from a variety of diverse backgrounds. So, the chance to get work experience in a foreign atmosphere, consulting with businesses and people from different markets, is a great learning experience for young professionals in terms of expanding their global mindset, which will be so useful in future careers.

Any program that can integrate real-world international experiences into the curriculum will give students an edge. Whether it is through exchange terms or professional consulting projects with businesses looking to operate abroad, choose a school that will give you that highly sought after international exposure.

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