North-South Linkages – from the classroom to the ‘real world’

University of Leeds student Elliott Kratt reflects on his ‘real world’ experience; working as an intern in a global business context and in a charity in a developing country, and finds that the module ‘North-South Linkages’ at the University of Leeds helped to prepare him for his experiences.

“I am a final year undergraduate reading BA International Relations. I undertook the module North-South Linkages in my penultimate year which helped to shape my academic and career focus. Seldom do modules perform this function. Yet, North-South Linkages provides a unique insight into the world of commerce and its relationship to politics.

The Module

The North-South Linkages module offers an invaluable empirical and theoretical insight into the relationship between politics and economics globally. The module exposes the often unequal relationship between the global North and South. Elements that grasped me specifically were those of production and supply chains in international business. Further still, international efforts at encouraging development in the global South, namely sub-Saharan Africa, proved intellectually stimulating topics to study.

Owing to such an interesting academic focus I decided to satisfy my intellectual hunger by undertaking work experience to explore these interests further. The content of the module also helped me to secure such experiences by using the knowledge and analytical skills I had attained on the module, in applications. Upon completion of the module I secured internships in two international businesses and with a Ghana-based charity.

International Business

As an intern in an international business context I was able to gain an insight into how companies operate on a global level and engage with the global South. Trade relations were not straight forward and a variety of political, legal, and market risks played a role in determining their operations and profitability, from supply chains to services. As a result of undertaking the North-South Linkages module I was able to contextualise such business operations from a macro-economic perspective and recognise the role of political developments in determining their nature. It was interesting to see how closely aligned academic literature was with the ‘real world’.

The global South

In addition, I visited Ghana, one of my favourite sub-Saharan African states and one that had come into focus while studying the role of Bretton Woods institutions, fair trade and efforts at global development. Whilst in Ghana, I worked with a charity on micro-level development projects coordinated with and run by local stakeholders and the government. I was able to gain an understanding of how development efforts were impacted at local levels by the global economic climate and political developments, impacting upon how the charity was able to operate. The North-South Linkages module provided a nuanced perspective on this and allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of the charity’s role in the national context, and its relationship to the global economic system.

North-South Linkages and Careers

The module has helped me shape my career path. As an intern in international business and in a charity in the global South, I was able to reconcile academic approaches to every day commercial and development activities. This enhanced my ability to perform well in each situation and added further insights to my understanding of the global economy and its different dynamics. Contextualising my experiences in light of what I had learned from the module has contributed to my achieving highly at university level and provided me with a more practical career focus relevant to my degree.”

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Elliott Kratt is a final year BA student in POLIS