Job Security and Study Abroad by William Smith

Based on your experiences, what assets might international study yield as opposed to someone who only studied domestically? Think about potential advantages on resumes, during interviews and in the workforce.

It’s hard to believe that I’m already back home from Brazil.  Four and a half months after arriving in a foreign country in which I did not know a soul, I can now call Brazil one of my many homes.  My semester in São Paulo left me with many new friends and colleagues, cherished lessons and professors, flatmates and housemates, and yes, even favorite restaurants.  I will miss all of these people and places dearly.

During my time in Brazil, I learned how to survive on my own, to cook meals and to concoct caipirinhas, to enhance my working knowledge of Portuguese, my third language, and to embrace a new cultural understanding and lens through which I view my own life and life experiences.  Through my trials and tribulations, I grew as a student and as a person, and I have São Paulo and my friends to thank for this.  In fact, I’ve already seen my changed thought processes yield dividends and interesting conversations back in the United States.

As a student that recently secured a summer opportunity in investment banking in New York, I competed with some of the brightest and best-prepared students in the world for spots at top international investment banks.  Despite my rather nondescript appearance and ordinary Southern upbringing, I have found Tulane’s Altman Program and study abroad stints in Costa Rica, Argentina, and Brazil to be incredible differentiators.  Rather than ask about valuation methodologies and Janet Yellen’s latest press releases regarding future Federal Interest Rate hikes, my interviewers preferred to ask me about my time living, working and studying in Latin America.

In my wide variety of conversations with finance professionals across the United States, it seems that Brazil remains an exotic locale with a certain mystique surrounding its people and its culture.  “Is Brazil scary?” one man asked. Another wished to know about Dilma Rousseff’s possible impeachment, to which I promptly replied with my skeptical analysis of the constitutionality of the impeachment proceedings.  One female analyst asked me about Brazil’s currency devaluations, and even about the steak and churrascarias.  Finally, one man, perhaps in confidence, inevitably asked me if I had found a new “namorada,” the Portuguese word for girlfriend.  I had no choice but to laugh.

I now know that studying in Brazil was a wise decision in making my personal story and the scope of my comprehension of Latin American markets a selling point during the interview process.  In an ocean of eager college juniors with too many hair products, crooked ties, and wrinkled suits, Altman Scholars stand out as prepared, determined, and indeed unique.

Ultimately, however, while I am grateful to have had an aid in my interview process, I know that my friends, professors, and memories will forever be more important.  To Brazil, FGV, and those that I hope to see someday soon: Eu sempre vou ficar com saudades de vocês. 

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