Izzy Fawcett is getting to be quite the global citizen these days.
The WSB junior from Wheaton, Illinois, spent her Spring 2023 semester studying abroad in Rome and also traveled to Berlin over spring break in 2022 for a faculty-led trek as part of a supply chain management course. Even though she “loves Madison more than anyone,” Fawcett knew getting off campus to participate in international learning would build new skills and push her out of her comfort zone.
“I think it’s important to understand business on a global level, but there are also so many personal benefits that people gain by going abroad,” she says. “I’ve definitely learned to be more vulnerable and open-minded.”
Stories like Fawcett’s are common at the Wisconsin School of Business. That’s because 40% of WSB undergraduate students study abroad—well above the national average—and all signs point to increased interest, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I call it the ‘getting out of my parents’ basement’ energy,” says Kallan Picha, director of global programs and partnerships at WSB. “Students really want to explore and experience the world. We’re trying to match that energy and build programming students want to take advantage of.”
While the traditional one-semester study abroad program has long been a staple of colleges and universities, WSB is taking global learning to the next level with the development of new, shorter-term international treks for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as establishing new exchange partnerships with universities across the globe to bring more visiting international students to Madison.
It’s all part of the school’s plan to help students develop a global mindset—one that will prepare them for careers in today’s business environment.
“The world is more interconnected than ever, and we want to create students who are not only globally minded, but are good global citizens,” says Picha. “To do that, we’re really broadening the menu of options so that students have a whole portfolio of programs to choose from that fit with their budgets, their timing, and their interests.”
Through global learning, students build problem-solving skills, learn resiliency and flexibility, and increase their cultural awareness. The benefits also manifest in more tangible ways; Picha notes that students who return from studying abroad have higher GPAs, stronger job prospects, and increased earning potential (including, on average, a 25% higher starting salary).
Whether students are going for a full semester or a 10-day trek, Picha’s team is committed to maximizing the time with meaningful experiences. “Students are earning credits, they’re getting grades, they’re doing assignments,” she says. “Meanwhile, we’re arranging engagements with local companies and cultural immersions, so students are learning a lot and working really hard.”
Thanks to scholarships and philanthropic support through initiatives like Day of the Badger, more students than ever now have access to resources to offset the costs associated with international programs.
That’s something that resonates with Fawcett, who hopes more students can have opportunities just like the ones she’s had.
“I do think everyone deserves and should have a global experience,” she says. “Being open to learning a different language and customs and the value of diversity in business is really important. And as college students, this is the time to do it.”