Globetrotting grad sets her sights on social entrepreneurship

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Sasha Milam

Mishkin with an eagle in Mongolia.

Every year, the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business welcomes students from around the world. Many of them are attracted to the school for its commitment to international learning: You can start here, and go anywhere. Ariel Mishkin, BCom '16, was definitely one of these.

"The Gustavson program interested me because it’s so focused on sustainability and international work," said Mishkin. "Living abroad has always been part of my plan. So I thought, why not take the opportunity to go to school and travel the world at the same time?"

Mishkin, originally from California, entered Gustavson five years ago with the conviction that her place was in the international community, despite previously having limited opportunity to travel. Since then, she's worked in Mongolia, Poland and India, studied at Poland's Kozminski University, travelled the Trans-Siberian Railroad, tried her hand at Mongolian throat singing, pursued her love of photography, won five scholarship awards, and kept up an A average while doing it. She has developed friendships with people around the world, and connected with her own Eastern European roots.

Mongolia was her first independent expedition outside North America.

"I chose Mongolia because the internship I was offered at Nan's Cashmere gave me opportunities you wouldn't get for years at businesses in other parts of the world: the chance to be second-in-command and have the freedom to implement the projects I wanted to, and manage a budget. I had never met anyone at the company, even by Skype, when I got on the plane."

Nan’s Cashmere, run by Mongolian fashion designer Nansalmaa Sanjmyatav, also appealed to Mishkin because of its emphasis on social sustainability. "The company is run entirely by women. Some of the funding comes from the UN, because [Sanjmyatav] is empowering single-income mothers and providing them with a food network, English language classes, and other opportunities." Working with a company that built success on cultural integrity and the welfare of its employees was a powerful opportunity that solidified her interest in international development and social entrepreneurship.

This, and her experiences in Eastern Europe ("I fell in love with Estonia"), confirmed Mishkin’s intentions. "I'd be thrilled to work for the UN, or the Canadian government abroad or an NGO on a larger-scale project. Ideally, I want to be involved in women’s rights issues."

With this passion driving her and her last semester wrapped up, Mishkin is ready to get back on a plane. "I gave myself a little break after travelling for over a year and finishing my last semester," she said. "But I am applying to a number of different positions now, both locally and around the world. I’m also seriously considering a Master's in International Relations. It just depends what opportunities present themselves; I know I will ultimately end up living and working abroad for a cause I believe in."

As this chapter of her education comes to a close, she reflects on her time at Gustavson. "The biggest gift Gustavson gave me was learning how to navigate interpersonal dynamics. Strong personalities, tense group work under pressure, tight deadlines; it's something I would never have chosen before. Compromise is not an option for me, so I'm thankful that these experiences helped me see the bigger picture when working with groups, and especially when working on cross-cultural teams. Learning about other peoples' cultures and work ethics is a really powerful skill that I will be using my entire career."

Safe to say, she’s emerging from the program this November with the academic chops, internal compass and work experience to become the international leader she envisioned.


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Keywords: convocation, student life, graduation, alumni, commerce, international

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