By Angela J. Krčelić, a Chicago Gal and RIT Croatia alumna
It is already well-known that the American college RIT Croatia provides top-quality education. However, the demands of the business world are greater than ever before. Students must be prepared for real business challenges and opportunities once they graduate, which is why RIT Croatia’s cooperative education and experiential learning prepare them for successful integration into the labor market and help them launch their careers.
Through co-op students gain work and valuable hands-on experience in their respective majors. RIT Croatia students complete their co-ops during their sophomore and junior year, where they spend a minimum of 800 hours conducting their co-op.
Co-op programs are carried out at companies and in industries relevant to the students’ studies. In addition to gaining professional working experience and building a significant business network, co-ops help them develop indispensable career skills in management, business communication, time management, flexibility, teamwork, etc.
One of those students is Dora Rašin, RIT Croatia’s student who was born and raised to Croatian parents in Boston, Massachusetts. She regularly visited the homeland during her summer breaks and even spent two school semesters in Croatia in middle school. She moved to Croatia three years ago to enroll at RIT Croatia, where she’s currently pursuing a major in International Business following a double minor in management and psychology.
Realizing the difference between studying and doing business
Dora has recently finished her co-op at Biotech Materials, a Zagreb-based start-up whose goal is to disrupt the leather market using bio-based leather made from barley, which is discarded as a byproduct of beer production.
As a business development intern, her main duties focused on supporting the company through its second round of investments, and overall expanding the business potential of BTM, whether that be contacting potential B2B firms and manufacturing partners, or writing blog posts with the marketing specialist for the company’s own website.
Dora found her co-op with the help of RIT Croatia – “The college does a great job of emailing interesting job postings regularly, and explaining what each job requires of its candidates, so when I received the Biotech Materials job listing from RIT Croatia, I went ahead and applied, partly because I’ve always wanted to work for an environmentally conscious company.”
When asked about her average workday, she said: “My day-to-day tasks included assisting in developing a fundraising strategy, financial planning and management, updating the business plan, strategic partner communication, and various marketing tasks.
On any given day, I knew my tasks could drastically change, so going into this job, I needed to be prepared for that. Typically, I would get to the office around 9 am, and sit alongside founder and CEO Tamara Vučetić while I gave her the rundown of what I would be working on at that time. This could be anything from calculating figures in the financial plan, writing articles aimed toward environmentally conscious readers with the marketing specialist, or typing up a quarterly report for investors.”
Getting a taste of the real business world
During her co-op, Dora was excited to use the knowledge she’s gained from RIT Croatia: “Financial classes such as financial accounting and financial management definitely came in handy, and this job helped me apply theory into practice, as I was actually able to do the complex financial formulas we would regularly talk about in class. Marketing skills were also a huge help as I worked more closely than I expected with the marketing specialist, which allowed me to learn additional skills from her, such as the relevance of SEO optimization in a start-up company.”
Putting theory into practice and seeing your effort result in success first-hand are few of many benefits that RIT Croatia’s students experience during their co-ops, but there are also some that tend to be a bit more challenging: “Something that was hard for me to get used to at the beginning of this internship was people ignoring my calls/e-mails, or not willing to do business with our company. However, it was very good practice, firstly, because I was able to practice using my Croatian in a business setting, and secondly because it prepared me for the rest of my career. Many people on the other end of the line probably didn’t have time to talk to an intern, simply didn’t want to, didn’t understand, or didn’t have the capacity to do business at that moment, all of which are valid reasons in their way.”
When reflecting on her co-op experience, Dora hopes that she’ll retain the skills and insights gained from working at Biotech Materials, and continuously improve on them: “I believe that every experience is a learning experience because I wouldn’t have learned what I did the way that I did at Biotech Materials through any other company. I now know that I would prefer to work at a company involving plenty of collaboration and communication from different positions at the company. Additionally, it’s interesting to think about that I now have experience working at a start-up, especially when I realize Facebook and Uber were start-ups too.”
About RIT Croatia
RIT Croatia (formerly known as ACMT) has been delivering top American degree programs in Croatia since 1997. With its two campuses, in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, this is the only US college in the country and it is the only institution for higher education granting two diplomas to its students – an American diploma, awarded by RIT, and a Croatian diploma, awarded by RIT Croatia. RIT Croatia graduates work all over the world – from the EU countries to Australia and the US, but also exotic locations such as Curacao. International students come from all over the world but most of them come from the U.S. Some come from the main campus from Rochester, but a lot of Americans come from Croatian Diaspora communities in cities such as San Jose, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Mississauga, Cleveland, and many more. For more information, contact [email protected]
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