The trade mission is a unique, interdisciplinary project for entrepreneurial master’s students at VUB that sees them spend three weeks abroad implementing a project for a Flemish company. A group of commercial engineers at VUB organised the first trade mission in 1990. Since then, experience has been gained and the initiative has been expanded.
Students from other majors participated in the trade mission for the first time last year. This year’s mix is even more diverse, with the missions being organised by a team from various fields including commercial engineering, commercial sciences, communication sciences, law and bioengineering.
Students organise the entire mission themselves, guided by an academic team. Throughout the process, they are primed to independently carry out a mission and build their project management skills. The companies work continuously with the students to ensure the process is transparent, and receive a comprehensive report with the results once the mission is complete. The experience is an important advantage for students when they come to enter the job market.
The preparations for the trade missions start in the summer before the academic year begins. Practical matters such as accommodation, local transportation and communication are arranged in advance, so that the execution of the mission and the completion of the assignment can receive full attention.
During the mission, students make new contacts and engage in prospecting, market research or sales of Belgian products and services. Each student carries out a unique strategy for the client and the extensive pool of multinationals and start-ups in Flanders ensures that each person works on a unique project.
Students are encouraged to carry out their own project within an academic context, with specific goals and achievements. This hands-on experience gives them the opportunity to increase their entrepreneurial spirit by developing their own strategies and becoming familiar with the international business world.
The students will be welcomed to Budapest and Athens at opening events hosted by the Belgian Embassy and the local Flanders Investment and Trade offices. This gives them the space to present their project and networking opportunities where they can make their first local contacts. The mission will last three weeks, after which they will deliver a report to their company.
No Russian mission
Because of the humanitarian and economic crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the trade mission that was planned for Russia has been cancelled. The companies decided with the students and the academic team what the next steps would be and how the project could be carried out in other locations. Students will now travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, Lithuania, Portugal, Dubai, Turkey and Malaysia.
Loraine Vekemans, [email protected], 0489 12 55 33. Greece
Tobiaz Willekens, [email protected], 0478 05 78 75 Russia