As the world moves beyond boundaries and becomes more and more global, educating our students to do business internationally is a key component in college classes. Educating Spanish-speaking residents is just as important.

That’s why Teresa Martinez, executive editor of Viva Polk magazine and member of the Polk State College District Board of Trustees, asked CFDC’s Javier Marin, senior director of Business Resiliency and Global Trade, to write an article on the need for employees who understand working in a global marketplace for her Spanish-language magazine.

“Javier is such an expert in global trade and education, and the Hispanic community needs to be educated in all this. The world is becoming so global,” Martinez said.

One young man she knows is living in St. Petersburg and attending the University of Pennsylvania remotely. “There’s so much to be done in all of this. Kids today can do internships without even moving to a company’s place of business.”

Her goal is to educate people. Viva Polk has been approved to be used in the Polk County Public Schools Spanish department, she said, and at Florida Southern College. “I strongly believe an educated community is a safe community. Along with ads, we want good articles from experts.”

Edition 9 of the magazine will be online at vivapolk.com the first week of April and at newsstands the second week.

Teaching Our Students

As our communities become more diverse and technology allows more people to work remotely, “It is important for individuals to understand and be prepared for global business activities,” said Angela Garcia Falconetti, president of Polk State College and chairwoman of the board of the CFDC.

Polk State prepares students for multinational educational opportunities and experiences through its Institute for Global Initiatives, she said. “Students can participate in global-designated courses, study abroad experiences and on-campus international events. These opportunities ensure that Polk State graduates are familiar with global business and are prepared to work in Polk County or beyond.”

Michael Weber, dean and professor of marketing at the Barney Barnett School of Business & Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College, said a large percentage of U.S. businesses today operate internationally through imports and exports. “Thus, it is important to learn how cultural, economic, technological and political forces shape businesses around the world and how these forces impact international business operations and decision making.”

Teaching students before they enter the workforce is important, especially when it comes to understanding various cultures, he said. “Cultural awareness is probably the most important skill that we need to be successful in the global marketplace. Understanding that cultural nuances exist is a critical skill for business negotiations.”

That will be important as travel and a desire for adventure return now that people have started to get COVID-19 vaccines, Weber said. “I do think we will see a bit more Zoom since we have proven that it is a cost-effective way to facilitate some meetings. But nothing can totally replace the impact and effectiveness of meeting potential clients and business partners face to face.”

Teaching International Students

Teaching international students who come to America to learn is also important.

“International students provide local businesses with an opportunity to diversify their workforce and benefit from the unique cultural perspectives that they bring to the workplace,” Weber said. “International students are generally on F-1 Visas, which allows them to work temporarily as part of their education experience.”

Falconetti said all students benefit from real-world experiences. “At Polk State, students are encouraged to participate in internship opportunities to allow them to see and experience careers that they are interested in pursuing first-hand. Local businesses can partner with higher education institutions by providing job-shadowing or short-term internship opportunities to allow all students to understand real-world work experiences and standard workplace expectations.”

In 2015, Polk State College partnered with LEGOLAND to create the Florida Resort Internship Program.

“This initiative has served more than 60 students who have earned college credit while receiving hands-on experience as resort ambassadors and in specific departments, including finance, marketing, and waste and environmental.”

Handshake

Recognizing that Polk County employers are interested in connecting with students from all of our local institutions in a more uniform manner, the CFDC provided grants to several local institutions — including Florida Southern and Polk State College — that transitioned to a new career center software called Handshake.

“I think that Handshake is an outstanding program for connecting employers with domestic and international students (potential job candidates),” Weber said. “I highly recommend Handshake for any company that is seeking to recruit the best talent.”

Polk State College also uses the virtual career center platform to connect students and alumni with thousands of employers. “Students can access job listings and internship opportunities that are local, or international, providing them with opportunities that span the globe.”

Additional Polk County higher education institutions utilizing Handshake include Florida Polytechnic University, Southeastern University and Webber International University.

Polk Goes Global

With a focus on Global Talent and International Education, this year’s Polk Goes Global, being held on May 5 via Zoom, will highlight the significance of global education to companies recruiting talent, discussing Polk State College’s collaboration with Instituto Tecnológico de Mérida and Polk County graduates who are now involved with international business.

The keynote speaker of this year’s Polk Goes Global is Sandra Campbell, the Director of Tampa Bay Export Assistance Center. Since 1998, Sandra has counseled and developed export strategies for small and medium-sized companies with U.S. products and services throughout the Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida regions. International projects/missions have included Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Panama, Poland and Spain.

Register HERE. Contact Javier Marin at Javier@cfdc.org for more information.