Upon finishing her Master’s Degree in Finance in Paris, France, Leslie Costa, who is originally from Gabon, set out to do a paid internship in Miami, USA. When she returned to France, she realised how much the experience had expanded her worldview, and added to her CV.
Following her realisation, Leslie founded the International Student Company in 2012. Today, she seeks to offer the very same rich experience to talented students from Africa.
The International Student Company is a cultural exchange agency seated in Paris, France, with a subsidiary in Miami, USA. Leslie founded the organisation in 2012, with the goal of assisting highly educated multi-lingual students – participants speak 2.5 languages on average – in achieving their professional goals by finding them paid internship positions in the U.S. “After I successfully helped a friend find a paid internship in the U.S., I realised I could turn this activity into a company. I didn’t think twice, and gave up my career in finance to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit within me. Through the International Student Company, I help students reap the benefits of life-changing cultural and professional experiences abroad.”
More than 500 students
Since its launch in 2012, the International Student Company helped more than 500 students from Europe, Latin America and Asia find paid internships in the U.S. With a meagre three students to date, however, African students have yet to find their way through the International Student Company into U.S.-based companies. A number that Leslie is determined to push.
Part one of Leslie’s plan rallies around partnerships. She is currently in the process of building partnerships with African universities in order to raise awareness about the opportunity of doing an internship in the U.S. Why would an African student want to intern in the U.S., we ask Leslie. “There are several benefits that I would list”, says Leslie. “A paid internship in the U.S. will provide a student with the cross-cultural skills needed in our increasingly globalising and culturally diverse job market. Students will expand their horizons, and build relationships with foreign people, cultures and economies. Living in a context different from one’s native culture will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the people around them. For students from Francophone Africa in particular, an internship experience in the U.S. will immerse them in the English language, and boost their linguistic skills beyond where language classes.”
Strengthening companies’ competitiveness
The International Student Company offers two main services: a full placement service, and a self-placement service. The latter is meant to assist students with their paperwork after they have found an internship position on their own.
What’s in it for American companies, we finally ask Leslie. “Hiring people from a variety of backgrounds will strengthen a company’s competitiveness. African students add significant value in this respect. Their creativity and aspirations are an asset to an American company, and an African hire may open a future African branch – one of the world’s few growing economies. We currently have 200 companies that receive interns from us, and I am keen to expand that list by linking companies to African students!”