Rondene Grinam’s list of undergraduate degrees is impressive: A major in communication with a concentration in public relations, and minors in global affairs and journalism. Which sounds great if you want to be, say, a foreign correspondent.
“But I decided I wanted to go into international marketing,” she said.
Dealing with business on a global scale required higher education that a bachelor’s degree, and as Grinam searched the graduate school landscape to find a good fit for her experience and ambition, she discovered the Master’s in International Commerce and Policy program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, located in Arlington, VA in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
“I saw the international commerce and policy program and thought it was so cool because it was basically a mixture of international relations degrees and business—how the two intersect,” the 2018 graduate said. “I think that’s really valuable in the world we live in today.”
The program is also flexible, she added, allowing students to tailor the master’s degree to fit their own goals.
While the Schar School’s Master’s in International Commerce and Policy program boasts some of the top professors in the field—including many past and current practitioners at key agencies and commissions—program director Kenneth Reinert suggests classroom learning needs to be supplemented with travel abroad.
"The Schar School study abroad program has always been an important aspect of the international commerce degree,” said Reinert. “Being able to spend time in other countries, talking to educators, politicians, and business people, opens up an important ‘real-world’ window not always available in the classroom.
“Many of our students and instructors are from other countries, but visiting those countries in an educational capacity is an invaluable addition to the degree."
Grinam, a native of Jamaica, chose to enroll in one of the Schar School’s most lauded short-term study abroad programs—the one-week Oxford Entrepreneurial Leadership for the Global Marketplace, offered in the summer at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
During her time in England, Grinam was exposed to “the importance of cultural considerations, social and political aspects, what you can and cannot say, and what will resonate with the people you are marketing to in another country and another culture.
“It’s basically why I was in the international commerce graduate program, to learn things like that. That’s really where my passion lies.”
The trip lived up to its promise.
“The focus was on international business, marketing, and branding,” she said. “There were speakers who had built their own start-ups, branding agencies, communications agency gurus. I really appreciated meeting people who started their own businesses from the ground up because I want to start my agency someday. I was taking it all in and connecting with all of them.
“It was very useful to get an international perspective on how to build a globally-focused company.”