Marta Baroth is currently GEM’s Outgoing Exchanges Coordinator and gives us some highlights on what she has learned from facilitating students’ exchanges abroad and her personal insights from her exchange to France when she was an Erasmus student.
Since 2008, her job has been to contact the 125+ institutional partners for Grenoble Ecole de Management, ensuring that they are of high quality, Triple Crown accredited (EQUIS, AMBA, and AACSB), and strategic partners for the school. There are 400 students being sent out on exchanges each year, and hence, she has a lot of paperwork to verify on behalf of the outgoing students from GEM, to then send to all the partner schools. She is consequently the main point of contact between the students and GEM’s exchange partners.
The process generally goes like this:
- All students from GEM interested in going abroad on exchange need to go through a process of selection beginning in October, which is based on their grades.
- Those selected for exchange opportunities must complete the Global Manager Program (GMP).
- Students then have to make ten choices for their exchange options and submit in an English letter of motivation for the exchange accompanied by their CV.
With respect to the places students choose for their study abroad Ms. Baroth has noticed varying trends over the years. However, one trend she has noticed consistently is the trend of change. No one year is the same. For example, this year, students are generally seeking to study in Asia or the US for their exchanges, and Latin America has sunk down in popularity. Last year, students’ choices were revolving around schools in Europe, Latin America, and India. Ms. Baroth says that it all “depends on the international context in the world,” which gives a glimpse into students’ preferences for exchanges each year. Nevertheless, this is always tricky to predict.
She relates back to her own exchange back when she was a student. She is originally from Poland, and on an exchange funded by an Erasmus grant, she began her international studies in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Subsequently, she applied to stay an additional year in France. Since the grant covered the first year of her exchange, she took a few jobs upon to make ends meet, such as a job in the theatre and for an EU association- in promoting the organization in a high school. She was a student on a budget and this was a reality for her back then, and for students going on exchange now, she finds. However, the exciting part of going on exchanges is in the discovery.
She has learned a lot about other cultures through exchanges, from the changes in lifestyle to the working culture. She had also gone to Oklahoma in the United States to study for a year, and she picked up the following on its working culture. She has noticed a mindset outlined by this “need to fight, need to win for your life.” In contrast, the working culture in Poland is less aggressive, perhaps somewhat complacent, but also more accommodating. “Polish shops are even open on Sundays,” she adds. Weekly meetings to talk about the issues dominate the working culture in France, and there is a lot of respect for hierarchy and position. In her opinion, working in France is somewhat in between the relaxed approach in Poland, and the direct approach in the United States to get things done.
Essentially, through her international experiences, Ms. Baroth understands the implications of going on exchange abroad, and how these experiences help one become more globally minded. This notion has definitely become relevant and rewarding for her, as she sends off GEM’s students on their own respective exchanges across the world. This is providing them with the same vantage point that she had when first coming on exchange to France herself.