Summer in Copenhagen: An opportunity for networking and professional development

As I conclude my double Bachelor’s degree in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I have been actively seeking out learning and development opportunities before graduation at year’s end.

After nomination through the University of Newcastle, a position in the Copenhagen Business School’s International Summer University Program (ISUP) recently presented the perfect opportunity for professional and personal growth.

Established in 1917, Copenhagen Business School is the premier tertiary business institution in Denmark, with their International Summer University Courses enrolling over 600 international students every year.

While the crux of the exchange was centered on completing core degree work in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I quickly found that the opportunities for networking and personal development were compelling in their own right.

This was highlighted through being placed in workshops with international students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds (such as Colombia, South Africa, Qatar and Croatia) which has provided a significant paradigm shift in my understanding of international business innovation and socioeconomic development.

While my ‘major’ focus for my double degree is in Human Resource Development, I had the opportunity to sit in on workshops from Social Entrepreneurship, Creative Industries and Strategic Management courses which encompassed a number of new-to-market theories such as Design Thinking and the Quintuple Helix; adding a layer of sociological and sustainability considerations on top of innovation management in the workforce.

The application of this theory (complementing my existing Innovation Management coursework) in conjunction with my personal networking in an international business environment was significantly empowering and challenging at the same time, particularly given the broad spectrum of perspectives from the cohort.

Of note in terms of challenges was the focus on refining my communicative skill-set, and also the ability to apply direct language while operating in these workshops to successfully convey the value proposition of my business idea(s) – something I have cultivated at length over my internships with DLA Piper, Varley Group and most recently Telstra.

Moreover, on a personal level I strongly feel that stepping outside your comfort zone (particularly in an international context) allows the opportunity to cultivate a unique understanding of emotional intelligence and resilience in operating in different cultural environments; a critical workplace skill that is frequently overlooked in traditional theory in Australian tertiary institutions.

This is a frequent question asked by my students that I mentor through the University of Newcastle, with regards to how best to apply their ‘networking ability’ in different contextual environments to build their professional ‘toolkit’ for the workforce of 2020 and beyond.

I would respond that pragmatically an international exchange is one of the best ways to extend yourself outside your comfort zone and challenge your world-views, by and large due to the inherent dichotomy of cultural dimensions and nuanced understanding of what constitutes ‘industry best practice’ between countries in the international business environment.

Of course, of equal importance is the cultural appreciation of travelling in a foreign country to make the experience even more memorable. Plenty of opportunities to travel in Denmark were provided by the CBS Social Crew, including spending a weekend travelling through Odense (visiting the home of Hans Christian Andersen), Aarhus, Aalborg and the beautiful Skagen Peninsula. I also took the initiative to go biking (in true Danish style) through the island of Bornholm to visit the stunning Echo Valley and Hammershus Castle (scoring some awesome shots on my Pixel)! And who could forget an amazing weekend trip to Germany as well (highlighted below)!

Summarily, the power of experiential learning in a global business context has informed a significantly higher level of understanding and development for myself across the following areas:

  • Empowered networking and refined communicative skill-set
  • Refined understanding of how public/fiscal policy can influence sustainability of entrepreneurship and innovation across multiple sectors
  • Respect and appreciation for the variance in cultural dimensions when pursuing ‘industry best practice’ approaches in a business context.

Again, for future students and young professionals considering a semester overseas – being nominated to study abroad in Copenhagen was one of the best experiences in my budding professional career. I have made new friends and mentors for life, broadened my horizons and would absolutely encourage all tertiary students between the University of Newcastle, Copenhagen Business School and beyond to do so.

Originally published by Alexander Austin on 


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