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CSUN to Start Trade Program

Fueled by a two-year $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Education, California State University, Northridge is developing a new undergraduate program specifically focused on international trade. The program, slated to begin this spring, was developed in response to a desire from Valley small to medium-sized businesses to have a local center that could help them expand their international outreach. “Our first main objective is to be an outreach place for the Valley business community,” Rafi Efrat, the director of CSUN’s International Business Program, said. “We did a needs assessment in the community and found a great deal of demand for communities looking to expand internationally, but they had few resources in the way of export consulting.” In accordance with their findings, Efrat developed the program, in collaboration with the school’s Roland Tseng College of Extended Learning that would have a community-service learning component that would provide export consulting to local businesses. In the final component of the five-course program, students will head out into the community, pair with local businesses and help them expand their export business. Some of the things that students will help businesses with include developing a marketing plan and helping them narrow down which international markets might be most receptive to their company’s products. Seed money The $150,000 earmarked for the program is essentially seed money, with most of the funds directed towards getting the program off the ground and subsidizing its study abroad programs and internships. Faculty practitioners from the field will supervise the courses, with current CSUN professors teaching the other courses in the program. In an effort to help target the businesses that will find such a program useful, Efrat has already spoken with representatives from the Valley International Trade Association. “I think the program will definitely be useful. The more institutions that offer business information as it relates to international trade will be a benefit for the community,” David Iwata, the marketing outreach coordinator for the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley (and VITA), said. “It will help companies learn how to find new markets and at the same time allow CSUN students to understand and pursue careers in international trade. There is absolutely a need for this in the Valley.” CSUN will not be the only learning institution in the Valley involved in the international trade arena. Last year, Pierce College established an International Business Center that has also proved useful to Valley companies. Customized service However, according to Efrat, the CSUN program will be distinct from Pierce’s Center. “We’re much more customized than Pierce is. They are much more focused on providing informational sessions and seminars,” Efrat said. “We’re sitting down with the firms and working with them over several months to develop a plan to meet their specific needs.” Whatever the case, Valley businesses generally believe that the more resources to help the community, the better. James Keller, the vice president of business development for Woodland Hills-based translation company, GlobalReady believes that the program will be a boon for firms such as his. “This will definitely be valuable for companies in the Valley,” Keller said. “We’d love to have interns help us locate companies that focus on exports. An intern who knew about international trade would be extremely beneficial for us.” In order to receive the certificate in international trade, CSUN students must complete the five courses in the program: international marketing, international finance, global logistics, international business law, and the experience requirement, which consists of an internship with a firm that does international trade. Efrat believes that the program will help prepare students for careers in such fields as export and import consulting, logistics support, or financial advising.

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