Karla Perez in her office at Herzing College Montreal.
(Updated November, 2020)
Quebec is an excellent place to start a career in international trade. There is good demand for entry-level jobs like customs official and import/export clerk, and strong growth potential for import/export merchants.
Thinking of starting your own import/export business? Interested in entering the industry?
Your first step is to look into quality import/export training. Professionals in this field need a solid foundation in import/export laws, regulations, marketing, and business strategy.
This week we interviewed Herzing's own International Commerce & Import/Export instructor, Karla Perez, to get a better understanding of how training works.
We talked about what to expect in class, entry-level job options, certification, and what it takes to succeed in this field.
Read on to meet the teacher, learn about the program, and find out if import/export training is right for you.
Q: Karla, can you tell us about your background in business and international commerce?
Karla: I obtained my Bachelor degree in Business Administration back in Venezuela. Then, I decided to move to Canada to pursue an AEC in Import/Export at Herzing College.
While I was studying at Herzing, I started taking the exams to earn an International Trade diploma from the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT), located in Ottawa. FITT is the world's leading import/export training and certification expert.
After getting both my diploma from Herzing and the international diploma from FITT, I was offered a teaching position at Herzing College. I had the opportunity to improve the overall material for Herzing's Import/Export program, to reflect the latest standards for training and professional practice.
I created all the assignments, quizzes, midterm, projects and final exams that Herzing is using for the courses today.
Q: What inspired you to start a career in import/export, and become an instructor at Herzing?
Karla: I have always been passionate about the idea of selling domestic products in an international market. Growing up, I used to love seeing all the products in the grocery store that were imported from other countries.
I was very curious to understand how products could come all the way to Venezuela from distant places across the globe. The concept of international trade was fascinating to me. I became inspired to study import/export, and share my knowledge and passion with students.
Q: What are the most important import/export skills students learn in your class?
Karla: The most important skills our students learn break down into four main categories. These are the practical skills employers are looking for when hiring in this field:
1. Prepare and manage all necessary documentation for exporting and importing goods and services.
2. Determine requirements and make arrangements for efficient and effective transportation of goods in a timely manner, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
3. Ensure preparation of goods for transportation in a manner that minimizes risk, maintains good condition of the products, and complies with regulations.
4. Implement inventory management strategies that address the use of international suppliers and the needs of international buyers and customers.
Q: What are some entry-level import/export jobs students can get, straight after graduating from this program?
Karla: Graduates are qualified for a variety of entry-level import/export positions. Some common examples are:
- Shipping/ Receiving Analyst
- Import/Export Clerk
- Entry-level International Trade Analyst
- Data entry Clerk
- International Trade Show Jr. Sales Coordinator (Entry Level)
- Entry-Level Inbound Customer Service Representative
Q: Do you have a lot of students who plan to start their own import/export business?
Karla: Absolutely. Many of our students are interested in starting their own international trade business. In most cases, students already know which products or services they would like to trade internationally. Our import/export training gives them a good foundation to launch a career.
Q: What kinds of projects or assignments do students do in your class?
Karla: We do a lot of real case studies. Students learn how to analyze a real import/export case for a business, and answer questions related to the theory and practical skills taught in class.
They learn how to apply FITT principles, international trade regulations, and import/export trade strategy. The focus is hands-on training, so students are more prepared for a real work environment.
Q: What is the toughest part of the Import/Export program?
Karla: Herzing students have the option to take the FITT exams, and become a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP). The material we teach in class is related to the FITT exams, but students have to do some study on their own to prepare. This is the toughest part.
The exams are totally optional and not required to graduate from Herzing. But quite a few students choose to challenge the exams every year.
In total, there are 6 FITT exams to earn the International Trade diploma. After gaining some real work experience, you can qualify for the CITP certification.
Q: What backgrounds do your students come from? Do you need experience in business to take this program?
Karla: We have students of all ages from all over the world. I have had students from 19 years old to 50 years old.
You don't need a background in business to succeed in import/export training. Some people are applying straight out of high school, and others already have a bachelor degree. It's a diverse group and everyone is welcome.
If you are ready to learn and willing to work hard, you can do well in this program.
Q: Is Quebec a good place to start an import/export career?
Karla: Quebec is an excellent place to start an import/export career. The province is so multicultural, with people and products from all over the world.
The diversity makes it easier to introduce products from overseas. Also, there is good demand for entry-level jobs like import/export clerk.
Q: What kind of work do students do at their import/export internship?
Karla: During their 8-week internship, our students get to experience a lot of different responsibilities. For example, they verify and coordinate freight delivery appointments from the warehouse to the customer.
They check the arrival of containers at ports, and verify dates of unloading and release of the containers (to avoid storage costs at the ports).
They coordinate with the warehouse and carriers to verify when containers will be delivered and then returned to the port. They get experience doing paperwork, working with a team, and applying regulations. It's an excellent introduction to the career.
Q: How does someone know they are a good fit for this career? What does it take to succeed?
Karla: In my opinion, the most important quality is to be adaptable. Because the import/export industry is always changing and evolving, you must be a quick learner who can stay ahead of the curve.
For example, the way we used to do paperwork for importing and exporting has completely changed with the implementation of new technology.
If you want to succeed in this field, you must welcome change. You must be prepared to continuously upgrade your skills, and adapt the way you handle specific tasks in trading.
Thank-you, Karla, for shedding some light on import/export careers and guiding us through the program. We're very lucky to have you on the faculty at Herzing College!
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT IMPORT/EXPORT TRAINING?
Your next step is to speak with an Admissions Advisor at the Herzing College Montreal campus. An Advisor can answer questions about:
- How to apply
- Tuition costs
- Financial aid options
- International applications
- Booking a campus tour
- Career options
- When the next class is starting
Find out if the International Commerce & Import/Export program is right for you. Click below to explore the training, chat live with an Advisor, or request free information by email. We're here to help!