Edward Tang: A SEIDO Student Officer Starts His Own International Business
Fourth-year University of Saskatchewan student Edward Tang has been involved in the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) ever since he could remember. “A few other students and I helped Nick [Kokkastamapoulos] with some research to establish the program,” Tang says. “We worked with him the whole way through and the day the SEIDO Program informally began to train students and place them with locally-based international business practicums. So many students have a deep interest in international business and crave some kind of experiential learning opportunity. I was so honoured to be a part of the pilot program. I felt so happy.”
Tang found himself with several projects on the go. “The Board of the University and the International Office wanted to establish a department called the Confucius Institute,” he says. “Nick recommended me to work with Professor Tom Wishart from Arts and Science on a Visibility Report.” Tang worked with Wishart through the summer to complete the report. The university was approved to host a Confucius Institute on campus in September, 2011.
When SEIDO Program Coordinator Kokkastamapoulos and Dale Yellowlees, Marketing Co-ordinator of the Language Centre, organized a Saskatoon business trip for several Chinese delegates, Tang worked with another student to design and present an hour-long seminar on Saskatchewan business.
He has also assisted Edwards [School of Business] Professor William Murphy with his international business scholarly research. “He brought data back from other countries,” says Tang. “I converted it to digital, spoke with Will about what direction he wanted to go with his research and then I organized the data.”
Tang was also one of the first student groups of the SEIDO Program to participate in a foreign direct investment research practicum pilot with Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA). He first worked with Megan Doepker on a research project for India and then moved on to various areas in the United States, Europe and Asia.
In all the SEIDO experiences, however, Tang’s most memorable was his assignment to help coordinate a university reception for Brazilian Ambassador Sergio Florencio who visited campus as a guest of the SEIDO Visiting Consul-General Series. That particular event had the most direct impact on his future. After working with Kokkastamapoulos and a few other SEIDO Student Officers to help prepare for Florencio’s visit, Tang was able to network at the reception. “I met Dale Yellowlees [UofS English as a Second language Centre] at the orientation event and talked with him for a long time,” Tang remembers. Soon afterward, Yellowlees emailed him about a job opportunity. “He said his friend was running an international immigration company and needed a Saskatoon representative.” Tang took the job and found it to be more interesting and profitable than he expected. So much so that he changed his plan from doing an MBA or MSc in Finance to beginning a career in immigration. After working for a year, Tang and his partner began their own immigration company. “We help people with the whole immigration process,” he says. “Most of them are in the entrepreneur category so before they immigrate, they need to take a business trip here. We organize the whole trip – we guide them where to go, which people to meet.”
Even though Tang is about to finish his studies and work full time, he maintains connections with many people he met through the SEIDO Program. “I had a lot of excellent students around me at SREDA and now I see some of them at another SEIDO practicum project with STEP [Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership]. Whenever I go to SREDA, Megan’s there,” he says. “I still keep a good relationship with the director of the Confucius Institute, and Will Murphy would like me to do more work for him.” Tang says he will also be joining Tim LeClair on a SREDA business trip to China in the new year.
“Without the SEIDO Program, I wouldn’t have had so many social networking opportunities,” says Tang. “I’m a student. I stay around school and there’s not much I can do with real business. This was a good chance for me to get involved in business off campus, and truly apply my learning to a real-world setting.”
* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).
The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.