SIBC’s Parisian Adventures

SIBC is a student run council focused on giving its students the opportunity to participate in international business experiences. Our slogan “Peace Through Commerce” expresses SIBC’s intent of engaging in conscientious business enterprises. As a council, we engage in project groups with both national and international companies and fund international internships. Personally, I have formed part of this council since 2015, where I have performed both as a Marketing Director and Internship Director.

It is vital to appreciate the major differences between business cultures in order to successfully engage in international affairs. For this reason, SIBC believes that a summer immersed in Paris, and its business hub, is a worthy experience for an SIBC member.

Me — Fernanda Lopeztolsa — walking around the Sorbonne and Pantheon area.

So, I find myself living in central Paris, surrounded by French businessmen and women, learning about our similarities and differences. I am only one week into my experience, so I have to admit I am not yet an expert. However, there is a very important lesson to be learnt about French businesses: the client is not always right.

This is a very harsh contrast to the U.S., where business owners tend to be accommodating, and adaptable to the needs of the customer. However, in France, there is little flexibility when it comes to facilitating contact and transactions. One should not expect to receive any special treatment for being a foreigner. On the contrary, when approaching a French business, one should be knowledgeable of the language, and their business practices. So, when it comes to business in France, try to learn the language, and keep professional and private lives clearly separate. The French will not allow for any type of personal or friendly chat. Every email, and every discussion, should be brief and to the point. Hopefully this first lesson is helpful for future interactions.

This experience would not have been possible without the help of SIBC, which is sponsoring part of my trip. The council is focused on affording its students the tools to grow in an international environment, and will continue to do so with its deserving members. I encourage anyone interested in building Peace Through Commerce to join this council.

Fernanda Lopez Tolsa — Internship Director