What were your major(s) at UCCS?
“I did a dual major in Finance and Management with a minor in Economics, and I graduated in 2017.”
Why did you choose to go abroad?
“I was a commuter student, and I needed to switch up my routine and just experience college a little more conventionally, and the best way to do that was to go apply to a program in a place where I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know the language. I think I just needed a sense of adventure.”
What is one thing going abroad taught you – academically, personally, culturally, or in some other way?
“If I have to sum it up in one thing, it’s that you don’t know who you are until you go abroad and throw yourself into a situation and experience like that. Looking at all of those – academically, personally, culturally, etc. -- you learn a different aspect of each of those from within you when you’re abroad and you’re pushed to your limits.”
How did going abroad contribute to your UCCS education?
“I decided to do all my international business classes abroad, so I did International Finance, International Econ, over there, and I think I gained a real international aspect of business that is not necessarily able to be taught in a UCCS education, because in my classes we were able to understand firsthand what was going on in Europe at the time. For example, there was a lot of speculation on Brexit going around at that time, as well as the default in Greece, and we were sitting in a classroom that was like ‘Okay, this is why Greece is failing, this is why Spain is failing, this is why Italy’s going to fail next.’ And it was really hands-on -- what was happening in the business world, we were able to experience in our classroom, which would not have been possible in the middle of the United States.”
How did going abroad at UCCS shape your career aspirations and employability?
“I don’t think it really shaped any sort of career aspirations; I didn’t come back and think ‘okay, I need to move abroad, I need to be there.’ But in terms of employability, I think gaining the skillset that you learn with working in teams with foreign individuals was huge. In American culture, we do work one way, we’re kind of trained to do group projects in that way, and I think being thrown in an environment where you had students from all over was so interesting and informative. There was one group project I just can’t get out of my mind. There was me, there was a girl from Egypt, there was a gentleman from Rome, there was someone from Russia, and I think there was someone from Ukraine, and it was the most complicated group project because all of them came from a different way of doing a project. It just was so unique to understand what all of us thought was right, and eventually working together to create a really good project – we ended up winning the competition. I think in terms of employability, it definitely showed me that if you can work in a team like that, you can go anywhere here in Colorado and work in a team. It’s easy, once you’ve been thrown in a setting like that.”
What skill or skills you learned while abroad do you find yourself relying on regularly in your career?
“Definitely that sort of team. Being in small business right now, I am very young in a business that is dealing with a lot of people who are much older than me. So the same thing with different people’s mindsets – I’m trying to run a team that has one person who’s younger than me up to people who are 68, and that’s just my immediate team. Then there’s dealing with the whole supply chain of the liquor business: sales reps, brand ambassadors, distributors, merchandisers, stockers – it’s a whole bundle of different personalities, different age groups. I feel going abroad and learning to work in diverse teams really helped me understand just how different we all are, but how similar we can be once we have the right leadership.”
Why do you think it’s important to go abroad as a UCCS student?
“There’s so many reasons. I think UCCS does a lot of things well, and it’s not to blame UCCS, but there is a lack of diversity on campus. It’s primarily a commuter student campus, and the student body is also a lot of people who have grown up either in the Springs or 20, 30, 40, 50 miles away from the campus. It’s a beautiful campus and the education is world-class. However, going into UCCS, I think we all go in with a specific mindset as a result, and we can get out with the same mindset, but going abroad and learning a completely different mindset allows you to just be a better person, understand yourself better, and also tap into different personalities within you that you wouldn’t have gotten the chance to experience being on campus, as well as network with people on an international scale.”