Prosperity Planning owner Dale Collins said having Russian student Irina Novichkova interning with her company has been a great learning experience for both of them. (Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff)

West Shore Rotary program a great exchange

Russian student gains knowledge at local businesses

Irina Novichkova is making the most of her time in Canada to prepare for a career in business management.

The 20-year-old student from Russia is in B.C. for five weeks as part of an International Rotary program created by the university she attends in Irkutsk, a city with a population of about 600,000 in Siberia.

Dale Collins, owner of Prosperity Planning in Langford, said she feels fortunate to have Novichkova working with her. “We were lucky to get her for a whole three days, considering how busy she is,” said Collins, a member of the Rotary Club of West Shore for the past seven years. “She’s got an incredibly busy schedule, working at more than 10 businesses while she’s here.”

Novichkova has just completed her second year at the Siberian American School of Management in the Baikal International Business School at Irkutsk State University. The internship was arranged by Vladimir Donskoy, who has arranged for more than 150 student internships in the Watch and Learn program arranged by the Baikal-Eco Rotary Club as part of a Rotary International initiative.

Novichkova, who is working on a four-year bachelor’s degree in strategic and operational management, plans to work for a couple of years before pursuing her master’s degree.

“I would like to work for an international corporation where I can use my English skills,” said Novichkova, who demonstrates a remarkable command of the language. “I want to work on my master’s while I’m working with the goal of starting my own business.”

Although she has travelled extensively, this marks her first trip to Canada. “I love the people and the natural beauty,” she noted. “I’m getting hands-on experience and learning more about Canadian business. I’ve been here two weeks so far, and I’m really happy with my decision to come here.”

Collins said the opportunity to spend time with Novichkova has encouraged her to go to Russia. “Until I met Irina, I’d never thought about how people in Russia prepare for retirement. I’d like to see how business is conducted there,” she explained.

“There are some similarities such as pension funds and government programs, but there’s some striking differences as well. I’ve learned as much from her as she’s learning here. She’s been a real asset and an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Novichkova said learning about how business finances are handled in Canada is great preparation for the studies she is preparing for this year. “It’s been impressive spending time with a woman who owns her own business,” she noted. “It’s very empowering and has inspired me.”

One of the highlights for her so far was arriving early enough to take part in Canada Day celebrations.

“I loved the energy, the music and the celebration,” she said.

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