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(l. to r.) Sean Gazitua, president and CEO of WTDC, with spring 2021 FIU interns Leahanna Sine (U.S.); Jibin Jinu, India; Calvin Mittra, Bangladesh; Julia Leitao, Brazil; Andressa Souza, Brazil; Isabella Palmese, Honduras; and Kristina Khudiakova, Russia.
When junior Kristina Khudiakova isn’t learning international business theory in class, she is putting it into practice as a digital marketing intern at WTDC, a global trade firm. Three days a week, Khudiakova heads into the office to create promotional videos and social media content. She films, edits and writes, working closely with employees and soaking up lessons covering all aspects of international business.

“I’m so grateful for this hands-on work opportunity where I can implement the concepts we study in the field I want to pursue,” said Khudiakova, president of FIU’s International Business Honor Society (IBHS). “They not only give me assignments, but we also talk a lot about other industries. I’m learning so much.”

Khudiakova is one of seven members of IBHS to be hired as a spring intern at WTDC, where FIU Alumni Association board of directors member Sean Gazitua (BBA ‘04) sits at the helm as president and CEO. It wasn’t Gazitua’s original plan to hire seven FIU interns, but he was so impressed by the crop of students he interviewed remotely last semester that he found a place at the company for each of their talents. The group also brings strong international experience to the business, hailing from Bangladesh, Brazil, Honduras, India and Russia as well as the U.S.

“The interns are amazing,” Gazitua said. “They bring a breath of fresh air. We’ve been doing this for a long time so we know what we are doing, but at the same time, technology is changing everything, so we want their opinions.”

Gazitua doesn’t have a preconceived list of internship slots to fill. Instead, he gauges student interest and comes up with individualized plans. When a current intern mentioned his interest in renewable energy, a lightbulb went off in Gazitua’s mind because he wants WTDC to become a green company. The intern is analyzing the company to find ways to reduce electricity consumption, as well as researching best practices employed by other companies.

The relationships that start as internships often evolve professionally. Gazitua has hired former interns into full-time jobs, and has used his connections around the world to help others find jobs in their home countries. He has found that international students often have language skills and a cultural understanding of markets WTDC works with as a global logistics provider.

David Wernick, teaching professor and faculty advisor IBHS, has helped connect FIU students with the company for years.

“I know these interns are going to get an amazing hands-on experience and be treated exceptionally well,” Wernick said. “They learn valuable lessons on teamwork, communication, and execution from a company on the front lines of the global economy. And WTDC gets a steady stream of students who are energetic and eager to learn, so it’s a win-win!”