A female student sits on the Great Wall of China

How Heavener strengthens its international reputation

Preparing students for the global economy has long been a priority at the Heavener School of Business. With international studies etched into the walls of Heavener Hall as one of the School’s four pillars, it’s important that students benefit from studying abroad or an international internship.

Led by Director of International Programs Joe Rojo, Heavener makes sure to combine academics and internationalization. The focus on studying abroad is paying off, as 51% of Heavener students graduated with an international experience in 2018.

“If a student hears their friend talking about their international experience, they want to do it, too,” Rojo said. “Word of mouth is a huge deal for us. If we were putting together bad programs or doing a poor job, students wouldn’t want to participate.”

Students can work with Rojo’s team at any point during their time at Heavener. For many students, they’re introduced to the idea of studying abroad as a freshman in Warrington Welcome, a one-credit class for students in their first semester. When students decide they are ready to travel, they have four touch points with a staff member before leaving.

The touch points happen in the exploratory stage, planning stage, administrative stage and launching stage. These meetings allow staff members to get to know the students and see what their interests are after graduation. Often times, this helps students find an internship or somewhere they can be socially involved when they go abroad. Rojo’s team has helped a pre-medical student find a doctor to shadow in Spain, a pre-dental student find a dentist to shadow in Rome and many other connections that set students up to gain a better understanding of their future field.

When students return from their trip, there is a fifth touch point called Rewind. Rojo and his team want to ensure students know how to communicate the transformation they experienced while overseas.

“We want them to reassess that experience in a professional manner so they’re able to talk to recruiters about it and present the experience well,” Rojo said. “Sometimes they need coaching on how to best communicate how the experience impacted them as professionals.”

Rojo’s team is the only one of its kind on the UF campus that serves one specific college. They focus on a smaller percentage of UF’s student population, allowing them to be more involved in a student’s international experience. Students are able to get a meeting set up quickly and get answers to their questions.

“We are able to be holistic about a student’s involvement,” Rojo said.

As the Warrington College of Business prioritizes international involvement at the undergraduate level, Rojo credits buy-in from college leadership as the key. Led by Warrington Dean John Kraft, leadership has supported and encouraged providing students with an opportunity to become more familiar with the global business world.

“When deans are on board and everyone is pushing the right way, you’re supported a lot,” Rojo said. “That’s a big part of it. If you don’t have everyone from advisors and faculty on board, it’s not going to be good. We are truly honored to have support from everywhere.”