SEIDO Students Take On SREDA Practicums

A pilot internship project between the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) has given six University of Saskatchewan students the opportunity to partake in actual foreign direct investment research. Students Megan Doepker, Wisam Salih, Anna Burton, Jonathon Neufeldt, Edward Tang, and Carolyn Aziz – all participants trained in the SEIDO - were enlisted in the pilot six-month project that completed November.

Recent B.Comm. graduate Megan Doepker, during her commerce studies joined the Hanlon Centre as part its SITO Program to gain more trade assistant experience. She was the first student selected to complete a research project for SREDA's CEO Tim LeClair. “Tim emailed Nick [Kokkastomopoulous] to see if there was a student who could do some quick research for his upcoming trip to South Korea,” she remembers. “That was the start.”

“The information was very valuable,” says LeClair of Doepker’s findings. “That was the first experience with it and as we continued discussions with the SEIDO Program, it just made more and more sense,” he says. “We need the research and we don’t have the hands to do it because it’s fairly intense. It’s a lot of data mining, a lot of surfing to pull information from companies in those markets in those sectors. And it’s an opportunity to give some of the students at the SEIDO Program real life, hands-on experience.”

Wisam Salih, who is doing a Masters in International Trade in Saskatoon, explains how he and fellow student researchers Anna Burton, Edward Tang and Jonathon Neufeldt collaborate. “We’re broken up based on country or region and we’re looking for medium to large size companies that would be good candidates for setting up in Saskatoon. We’ll look at some of the major sectors like ICT, manufacturing and mining,” he says. “At the end, we’ll have a lot of raw data in terms of trade between Saskatchewan and the other country.”

Management major Burton says the experience at SREDA has helped prepare her for her career. “When you’re in class you write a report just for the sake of writing a report and getting a grade. There’s more pressure here so you need to make sure that it’s accurate and accountable. It’s more exciting too,” she says. “I’m taking the International Business stream. From there I do hope to do something internationally focused.”

There’s more pressure here so you need to make sure that it’s accurate and accountable. It’s more exciting too,” she says. “I’m taking the International Business stream. From there I do hope to do something internationally focused.”

LeClair says helping students prepare for work is one of the main reasons behind the partnership.

“The core philosophy is that there’s benefit to both sides. We get the research, the intelligence and students that graduate with some of this experience are a lot better prepared for the real grind,” he says, adding, “Although I don’t work them too hard.”

The value of the SREDA partnership can be even greater for SEIDO students. After completing three research projects, Doepker was offered a paid position at SREDA. As a Foreign Direct Investment Researcher, Doepker is “taking the initial student research I’d been doing a step further and generating real prospective leads. Qualified leads,” she says.

“It’s a great opportunity for students and I’m quite thankful that the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program is around to expose our next generation to the importance of global business – especially Saskatchewan’s involvement,” says LeClair. “At the end of the day, this research helps us identify leads for companies in Saskatoon,” LeClair says. “That ultimately leads to capital as well as jobs.”

* 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 nick.kokkas@seidoprogram.org or nkokkas@haultaininstitute.org or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.