Erik Bainbridge speaks at the BC Export Awards Lunch, Downtown Vancouver, Nov. 20

SFU’s Erik Bainbridge wins 2015 International Business Studies Award

Dec 4, 2015    Source: Chantal Moore

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The International Business Studies Award recognizes a post-secondary student who has shown leadership and excelled in international studies while contributing to the BC export community. This year’s winner was Erik Bainbridge, a fourth-year political science major from Simon Fraser University. His academic journey has already led him to complete four work terms in China and Hong Kong, a decision he says has been invaluable.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Erik to discuss what the Award means to him.

Q: Tell us about yourself and what led to your interests in International Business.

I have always enjoyed travelling and the growth and learning that comes about as a result. I am also very interested in international relations, meeting new people and learning about different cultures.

Q: You have completed four co-op work terms in Hong Kong and China. Recently, you worked as a Trade Intern for the Consulate General of Canada in Chongqing, China. Briefly, what skills did you learn from these experiences and how did they shape your future career?

Two things come to mind. The first is adaptability. You learn a lot about yourself, your limits, and what it takes to be flexible and adaptable. The second is an understanding of intercultural business practices. Working within and between cultures are skills you learn as you go.

Q: What surprised you the most about working abroad?

How easy it is to find your comfort zone. The things you like to do at home, such as go to your favourite coffee spot in the morning, are things you can do abroad. It is not that difficult to get into a familiar routine.

Q: Did you run into any challenges (e.g., culture shock, credit transfers, etc.) and how did you deal with these?

As a foreigner, sometimes you are the centre of attention, which I was not used to. In many cases, just having a sense of humour helps. As well, I think it is important to prepare yourself mentally as much as possible in order to deal with these situations as they come up.

Q: What advice would you give prospective students considering study or work abroad?

The two biggest things a student will need are a sense of humour and adaptability. So many things will be thrown at you, and you will be in a volatile phase, but you have to roll with the punches and have perspective.

Q: What does winning the International Business Studies Award mean to you?

It is a great honour to be recognized for some of the work that I have done. This award was a culmination of my academic and co-op experiences over the past few years.

Q: What opportunities does BC have to further leverage trade relationships with China, especially in the education sector?

Canada and BC in particular are in a great place to capitalize on trade relationships with China, and there are a lot of things we can do to further this.

For example, more BC residents would benefit from knowing the strength of our relationships. There is a still a barrier to entry to China because of language. Our governments need to continue to collaborate and exchange ideas.

One exciting change happening in the past 15 years though – especially the last 5 years or more – is that we are starting to see more BC students go to China.

Q: What are your future career goals?

My future career goal is to work abroad in international relations and/or business. I like to constantly keep learning and travelling. It is energizing and exciting.

I am also interested in working for the Canadian Government, particularly with the Foreign Service.

Q: Finally, where do you want to travel next?

[Laughs]. Well, I have a few upcoming interviews in Hong Kong, so there is that. But I really want to visit Southeast Asia again. My last visit to Thailand was cut short due to a coup – so I want to go back there, then to Cambodia and more of Indonesia.

The 2015 International Business Studies Award was sponsored by the BC Council for International Education and presented at a gala on November 20, 2015. You can read more about the Award here.