Yeutter Student Fellows program paves way for trade careers

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January 19, 2021

Lincoln, Neb. —The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance is paving the way to provide real-world experience, networking and career exploration for a new generation of international trade professionals.

Husker students from four colleges and 13 majors joined the new Yeutter Student Fellows program in a pilot cohort last fall. The cohort welcomes and connects students from various academic disciplines related to economics, law, policy, business and agriculture to dissect international trade issues and gain new perspectives from studying those issues.

“I wanted to offer something that could give students a margin of excellence in preparation for careers in the area of international trade,” said Jill O’Donnell, director of the Yeutter Institute. “The world needs students who are focusing in different areas, have an interest in trade and subsequently go to work in the field, broadly defined. There are many different international trade career paths in the public and private sector.”

Students in the pilot cohort are challenged to connect knowledge gained in the classroom with a greater understanding of trade issues.

Each student was tasked with producing a trade briefing paper on a certain topic, mimicking a task that could be asked of a student at a future job. The Yeutter Institute helped students connect with experts in each topic area.

Joseph Vlach, a junior economics and global studies major, said his involvement in the cohort has helped unravel some of the misconceptions about international trade.

“Nothing is really as one-sided as it seems,” he said. “The more I learn, I find there is more to the story — it is much more complicated than you might see on TV or read about in short articles and paragraphs.”

Vlach’s briefing paper is focused on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade deal that evolved from the United States withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017 — and U.S. competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region. O’Donnell connected Vlach with a former U.S. trade negotiator who was closely involved with negotiating the TPP.

“It’s surprising, there’s a long list of things to learn and change your thinking of and to have a different viewpoint,” Vlach said. “My biggest takeaway is a change of mindset to always look for opportunities and to try things out.”

As the world becomes more globalized, the Yeutter Institute is creating pathways for students to grasp trade issues and lead them to future careers in the field. Malina Lindstrom, a junior animal science, and agricultural and environmental sciences communication major, said that her experience in the Yeutter Student Fellows program will help determine if she wants to pursue a career in politics.

“When this opportunity came up this summer, I knew it could be the perfect way to figure out if government and politics is something that I wanted to pursue further,” she said.

As a livestock producer, Lindstrom was drawn to focus her briefing paper on the potential for increased beef exports through current U.S. trade negotiations, as well as the potential for variety meat exports. Earlier this year, the cohort had the opportunity to network and learn from agricultural industry professionals at Nebraska Cattlemen, which gave her background information for her project.

“Knowing and understanding what is happening today is beneficial and can be very impactful to your career no matter what you’d like to do,” she said.

During the spring semester, the student fellows will work on team projects that explore new ways to build connections between citizens and federal trade policymakers.

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