Davood Shahabi age 32, Iran
This is the third installment of our international accelerated certificate program (ACP) student stories.
In his early thirties, Davood Shahabi had already accomplished a great deal. A native of Iran—where English is spoken rather inconsistently—Davood was fluent in English, had studied in several countries, had earned both an MBA and a doctorate of veterinary medicine and had years of work experience in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Still, he felt something was missing from his ideal career path, one that would eventually land him a top job. His next move might lead him to Dubai or the United Arab Emirates and he envisions that an American education combined with an internship in shipping, aviation or business development will be the perfect formula to take him there.
“To say that I studied in a business-oriented country at a recognized university and earned an American certificate—that has prestige,” says Davood Shahabi, an Accelerated Certificate Program (ACP) student earning a certificate in International Business Operations & Management (IBOM). “It will be important to future employers,” he acknowledges, as well as boosting the impression he will make when introducing himself in business.
Davood’s ACP colleagues mirror his sentiments. Each arrives self-motivated and, when surrounded by other high-caliber students with equal determination, they push themselves, stretch their boundaries, broaden their outlook, shape their career path and ultimately thrive.
For Davood and other ACP students like him, the accelerated programs are an attractive option because they require less time to study overseas. Representing between 20-30 different countries during any given quarter, students earn a specialized certificate by taking 6 or 7 courses over 12 weeks of a full-time, intensive daytime program. For another 10 weeks, students can add a real-world internship. In six months, they leave UCI with a certificate and practical work experience—not to mention enormous confidence, specialized knowledge and understanding of America’s culture and other cultures from both a business and a social perspective. (VIDEO)
In Irvine, Davood immediately feels at home in what he describes as a “calm, peaceful, low-density” area. “People are very warm and friendly, especially at UCI,” he shares. Living with an American family in a homestay situation, Davood doesn’t have his own car. Instead he diligently rides a bicycle to campus thanks to the mild climate and wide roads. On rare occasions, a member of his host family will drive him if he is dressed up for a class presentation.
Though a skilled presenter with honed English and several degrees, Davood was previously only familiar with impersonal classrooms. “The professors didn’t care how you worked or how you learned,” he says of institutions he attended in Iran and Malaysia. “Here, they follow the students’ progress, engage you and immediately respond to your emails.” Davood values that UCI offers a window into the “American style of thinking” in approaches to both business and education. “I am learning more practical import and export methods I didn’t know about in Asia due to regulations. I have my MBA, but what I learn here is on an international level, and the instructors were very good at explaining it.” Davood affirms that his interactions with his instructors were as valuable as the ACP certificate itself. (VIDEO)
He plans to follow the IBOM program with a second ACP and an internship. Once attracting just a handful each quarter, 40 to 60% of ACP students opt to join the 10-week internship program and put in a non-paid 20 to 35 hours per week. More than 200 Southern California companies participate, from Panasonic Avionics, Hannspree, Billabong and Mazda to companies specializing in finance, engineering, technology, hospitality/tourism, logistics, human resources, marketing and more.
“The UCI interns provide a fresh viewpoint for my organization,” says Cecilia Castro de Andrade, president of Oceanview Investments Corporation. As owner of the Havaianas store in Huntington Beach, Calif., Castro de Andrade values their cultural diversity as well as their comments and suggestions about every aspect of her business. She has taken great pleasure in watching her interns improve their English, interact with American staff members and scurry down to the pier on their lunch breaks—all which “makes their experience in America very productive” after completing the program.
IBOM’s graduation is bittersweet for Davood and his fellow students. One festive night inside the stately University Club brings students from all ACP programs together again under a tented ceiling aglow with strands of white lights. Some haven’t seen each other since orientation. Others haven’t spent a day apart. “One of the biggest advantages of the program is getting along with different nationalities and learning how to work with each other,” Davood says. “At the beginning of the quarter, we didn’t know each other, but by the end, we were close and would get together to go play beach volleyball.” Like many students, Davood views his certificate and his internship as essential ingredients for a brighter future, one that will set him apart from the competition and provide a clearer path paved with specific aspirations that are meaningful to him personally. (VIDEO)