How business students can prepare for Brexit
G. John Cole :
You have probably heard quite a bit about Brexit - the UK's departure from the European Union, which is due to happen on March 29th this year. The country's withdrawal is more complex than some believed it would be, since the UK is intricately bound to the EU by trade deals, laws, and customs arrangements that all need to be reconsidered from scratch.
Most of the details are still up in the air as the politicians involved struggle to find a deal that pleases everyone. While it seems the UK may experience economic challenges because of Brexit, businesses around the world are doing their best to prepare themselves for the international impact - and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
This moment of great uncertainty affects business students, too. So what can you do to prepare for a new economic landscape that remains uncharted territory?
It has become a truism that great business leaders are usually very well-read.
But while lists of billionaires' favorite books can undoubtedly point young entrepreneurs in the right direction, an unstable age requires dynamic reading habits. Keep up with journals, blogs, and Twitter, in addition to your regular perusal of textbooks and inspirational biographies.
But be smart with your reading time.
Everybody has their two-penneth worth to put in about Brexit. Regarding the black-and-white of the UK's new international trade relationships, what you read today could be wiped from the board tomorrow.
While staying abreast with political developments keeps you in the know, it can be more informative to read up on the responses and survival plans of businesses than to get too caught up in forecasts of what will actually happen.
Which companies are pulling out of the UK? What are the strategies of those that will stay? Which markets will European businesses want to target if trade with the UK becomes less favourable on both sides of the Channel?
Never underestimate the value of going to the horse's mouth! Go to conferences, network with influential people.
As much as you can! Business leaders are more likely to let slip what they are really thinking face-to-face than in print, in which they have time to prepare and rehearse a formal answer.
At the other end of the hierarchy, it's those on the ground level of a business that are often the first to notice trends in behavior among clients, customers, and competitors. Around 57% of British businesses have analyzed the possible effects of different Brexit outcomes.
There is no better vantage point to observe the business world than from within a company.
If you are looking for an internship, prioritise companies which have dealings across Europe and the UK.
If you're not in a position to intern, see if you can get some work experience one or two days a week - even if you are just working on the phones or in sales.
With many businesses saying it is incredibly difficult for them to plan for Brexit, being on-hand with your knowledge, research, and up-and-coming perspective may make you a valuable person to have around. Think through your own solutions and contingency plans to exercise your business mind and you will be able to be part of the conversation in the office.
The perfect place to learn about the potential effects of Brexit and how businesses might respond is ESCP Europe Business School's Executive Master in International Business.
With campuses in London and the major EU cities of Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Turin, and Warsaw, this online course has excellent connections across the European Union, empowering students to "become part of the international business elite".
Expert teachers train students in professional analysis, management, and administration, with close reference to the latest international management trends, such as those arising in the wake of Brexit. Multiculturalism and decision-making skills also form important aspects of the program.
Internships and international exchange experiences are available across various business disciplines.
While nobody knows precisely what the future of business holds - in relation to Brexit and everything else - learning to analyse, adapt, and respond is the best way to prepare.