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International biz students help regional firms abroad

International Water Co. managing partners, from left, Stephen Strachan, Robert Llewellyn and Marcus Ward joined forces with Elizabethtown College’s Collaborative Industry Partnership. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Bait in the water doesn’t guarantee the fish will bite. But it never hurts to throw in a few lines.

Additional tackle is essentially what local multinational companies are getting from the Collaborative Industry Partnership project at Elizabethtown College.

Also known as CIP, the 3-year-old program is a collaboration between the college and the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center in Harrisburg. The latter helps the former’s international business senior seminar class identify regional firms in need of market research and ways to set their brand apart overseas.

“They are helping companies fish better,” said Martin Brill, the SBDC’s international trade program manager. “They are helping them help themselves.”

In return, students gain real-world experience before they graduate. It could mean a job for them, which happened last year in the case of a student working with Armstrong World Industries Inc.

The spring semester project also could create internship opportunities with participating companies for future international business students.

“It has to be mutually beneficial,” said Hossein Varamini, who teaches the senior seminar and runs the international business program at the college.

The CIP is one project in the course and not a replacement for an internship.

Solving problems

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“It’s all about problem-solving,” said senior Nate Fosbenner, who is working with York Township-based International Water Co. to identify possible distributors for its mobile water purification systems.

Fosbenner and classmate Danni Qiao, an international student from China, said the project presents a good opportunity to accumulate practical experience they will need after graduation.

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