gpt participants pose in a group on UT campus

Training Offers Students Skills to Study, Work, Live Abroad

  • Jun 30, 2017

No university education is complete without adequate preparation for a career in the globalized economy. Texas Global has offered hundreds of students just that: tangible and practical training for professions that traverse international borders coupled with the opportunity to network with scholars and professionals based in Austin. These two-day conferences, called Global Professional Training (GPT), have centered around the Middle East and East and Southeast Asia. In the Spring of 2017, the focus was closer to home: Mexico.

Global Professional Training: Mexico is the seventh conference Texas Global has hosted since 2012 and part of a larger initiative to increase student mobility and academic collaboration between The University of Texas at Austin and peer institutions in Mexico.

"It was great to discover that there are so many UT students who have the same interest and passion for Mexican culture that I do,” said history senior Lillian Michel who attended the conference. “Vague ideas I had about working or studying in Mexico after I graduate from UT became concrete goals."

In total, 78 students attended the two-day conference, almost half of whom were international students. Attendees included 22 students from Mexico, and 9 from Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, India, South Korea, Spain and Venezuela. Their majors span nine colleges and schools and 29 departments.

In a survey response, more than 80 percent of students expressed that they had enhanced their cross-cultural communication skills as a result of GPT Mexico, and 85 percent of the students who attended reported they had developed a more positive perception of Mexico.

"I initially signed up to attend the GPT conference because I wanted to learn about working internationally,” said management major Betsy Purdes. “I gained a whole new perspective on Mexico and all that it has to offer. The meaningful discussions, informative presentations, and overall exposure to a new culture that this conference provided reinforced my desire to work internationally.”

The conference also enables students to forge peer-to-peer relationships over shared meals and activities. Almost 90 percent of the students reported they had made new connections with globally-minded students, and 81 percent reported that it had impacted their international career and study plans.

A mariachi band performs for participants of the Global Professional Training: Mexico conference.A mariachi band performs for participants of the Global Professional Training: Mexico conference.A mariachi band performs for participants of the Global Professional Training: Mexico conference.

"The most meaningful aspect of this conference was getting to know people, whether they were students or professionals, Mexican, American, or some other nationality,” said Ryanne Howard, a sophomore anthropology major. “It was great having the chance to be exposed to different types of people and talk with them about their lives and goals. This is what makes this a conference worth going to.”

Guest speakers represented organizations from across campus, Central Texas, and beyond. Speakers and networking guests from external partners included officials from Aeroméxico, the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, Peace Corps, Cityflag, and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

On campus, more than twenty academic institutes and departments also participated, including the Center for Global Business, Department of Art and Art History, Department of Civil Engineering, LBJ School of Public Affairs, Mesoamerica Center, School of Social Work, and the Tereza Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

The conference focused on students’ ability to analyze and thrive in new cultures, conveyed information about immigration policies impacting UT students, showcased opportunities for studying abroad in Mexico, and provided students resources for deepening their understanding of the relationship between Texas and Mexico. Breakout sessions covered topics ranging from cross-border innovation to the media’s role in Mexican democracy, and strategies for successfully working on cross-cultural teams.

“I received so much more out of the experience than I could have imagined,” explained textile and apparel student Clarissa Garcia. “I was able to network with people that I can actually anticipate working within my future career. If you think you may be interested in attending, you will not regret going.”

GPT Mexico will return in the Spring of 2018. In the Fall, Texas Global will again offer the Global Professional Training: East and Southeast Asia.