Spanish major and global studies minor nets
international job for WMU graduate
Kaley Marino is a sales representative for the German-based
Big Dutchman company in Holland, Mich.
Enrolling in Western Michigan University’s global studies program and studying abroad in Spain made Kaley Marino, a 2010 graduate of Western Michigan University, an attractive candidate for an international position with a West Michigan commercial farm equipment manufacturer. Marino, who majored in Spanish, says she has always been interested in travel and working abroad, so it made perfect sense to minor in a program that facilitated her desire to learn about other cultures and helped her achieve a goal to work for a company involved in international commerce. She reached that goal in September of 2010, when she was hired by the Big Dutchman, a German-based company located in Holland, Michigan, to serve as its international sales coordinator in the International Department.
She decided to declare a minor in global and international studies while taking the 2000-level introductory course, taught by Dr. Thomas Kostrzewa, to fulfill a general education requirement.
“I really enjoyed how “Dr. K’s” class focused on globalization, and I gained an infinitely better understanding of the true meaning of that term,” said Marino, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. “After completing the class, I decided to continue the pursuit of my degree with some emphasis on global studies. I met with Dr. K and found out that the curriculum was extremely flexible and that I could choose an area of focus. I was eager to get the ball rolling!”
One of the main reasons Marino was drawn to the GIS program was because of her ability to personalize her plan of study to satisfy her interests. The GIS major offers seven choices for a disciplinary focus, which is coupled with a regional, comparative, or foreign language emphasis of the student’s choice. “That kind of freedom to focus on what I was really interested in was very appealing,” she said.
(photo above) Marino visited Rome when she studied abroad
Working for a company doing business in Mexico provides Marino the daily opportunity to speak Spanish and think globally. The Big Dutchman sells farming equipment in more than 100 countries. Marino’s responsibilities include taking orders, preparing quotes, making product recommendations and completing logistical arrangements for her accounts in Mexico. This gives her the opportunity to speak Spanish and to witness how globalization is playing out daily in an international business.
“I wanted to be as marketable as possible because of how tough the job market is,” she said. “I think the most beneficial thing I learned from my GIS classes was the political standings of countries throughout the world. In my current job, I frequently work with import and export laws, trade regulations, and Incoterms—the official rules for international trade terms. Each country has its own set of regulations and requirements. My knowledge from the GIS classes allows me to better understand those requirements and fulfill them accordingly.”
To complement her Spanish major, Marino studied abroad in Malaga, Spain, in fall 2008 and lived with a host family, which she said greatly advanced her foreign-language reading, speaking and writing skills.
“Immersing myself in Spanish culture was the ultimate experience for my language skills and my cultural studies,” she said. “By living with a host family, I learned things that I would not have been able to learn in a classroom. Studying abroad is an experience I recommend to anyone studying for any degree.”
(at left) Marino in Spain near Puente Romano bridge
Working for an international company has greatly expanded Marino’s perspectives on the impact of globalization in the business world.
“A foreign company has a broader view of business than one that is doing business only in the United States,” she said. “Such companies are also compelled to do things more efficiently because their business is spread all over the world. Working for a global company means I have a lot more networking and expansion opportunities, as well.”
Story by Ed Clancy