The world of business is a world of opportunity, often framed as work. For example, when you are in business school, you can immerse yourself in study abroad programs that’ll take you all across the globe. The only catch is, you have to actually study. It’s no different than an international job assignment — one where the learning curve is as big as the rewards.
For myself, adventure has been a theme during my time at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. At first, I was driven by curiosity to find a study abroad program where I could obtain hands-on work with a real client. After speaking to my study abroad advisor, Katie Wiggins, I was able to find a Spring Abroad program where I became a student consultant for a Chilean Winery known as Laura Hartwig.
Instantaneously I began solving problems that the winery was encountering, whether that was cross-cultural trade with the United States or maintaining the integrity of the wine during the shipping process. Learning about the Chilean Wine market was eye-opening, especially because I could see barriers that international trade posed. For example, transportation costs could have detrimental effects if the supply of wine was meant to serve a niche market.
However, my favorite part was actually getting to meet the winery owner. We had an in-depth conversation about why he had decided to keep his winery small and yet distributed to major cities across the globe. Hearing about how he wanted to strive to produce wines with the same principles that his parents instilled in him: family, excellence, and conviction. He taught me the importance of holding onto these principles. In addition, as trade is negotiated globally, it is vital to explore cultural nuances when you are discussing contracts and involving yourself in international affairs.
ITALY & WASHINGTON D.C.
Once I had completed one study abroad program, I knew I needed to explore more both inside and outside of the United States. Opportunities arose for me through a semester abroad program in Italy and a Washington D.C. program called the Carson Scholars.
In Washington D.C., I was able to talk to individuals like Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and former Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott. It was a surreal moment when I stood right in front of them both and momentarily became an influencer in the governmental process.
The greatest takeaway I gained from our conversations was that bipartisanship is what both parties are striving towards. However, they still found that there was political discourse that barred them from proceeding in that direction. I was able to see this first-hand when I sat in on the Barr contempt vote. Overall, my excursion in Washington left me ready to leverage my new-found knowledge of public policy and apply it to business endeavors.
During my time in Italy, I was able to explore the vibrant culture of an empire. The architecture captures your eye as you just walk in awe of where you are. I can’t explain what it meant to me to see the Coliseum in Rome. Even my colleague Carly stated that, “my excitement was palpable.” The moment we walked onto the dirt floor of the stone amphitheater, I felt that we had become a part of history. It was a moment in time that I will never forget because I was walking into a symbolic locus.
Representatives from Luxottica (The Maker of Ray-Bans, etc.) also presented to our class about the need to remain fluid and positive even during economic downturns. It was exciting to hear about how their economy was in a recession but the company still managed to boost revenues by updating its business model.
Overall, the network you can establish while on these excursions is unparalleled to what you will find anywhere else. If you are willing to put in the time, you can create relationships that extend beyond your conversation and into your professional career. I still keep up with the representative of Luxottica. If you put yourself out there, follow up with an email, and say thank you, you can create partnerships worth more than the price of business school.
NEVER STOP LEARNING
My life would not be the same without these experiences. I have tasted the tart grapes in the lush vineyards of Chile; smelled the musk radiating off of the beautiful mosaics within the Sistine Chapel; seen the sunset from the sands of Barcelona Beach; touched the cool marble stones at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; and heard the bell ring from within the New York Stock Exchange. The best part is that each of these experiences was provided through programs that the Ross School hosted to enlighten its students and faculty.
The opportunities you can access are unprecedented. I can’t say enough about how much being a Ross School business major has impacted my life. I have gone across the world, twice: Once to Chile and now to Italy. I have been a section representative, met the CEO’s of large corporations, and done so much more than what I ever set out to do when I applied for school. College is a piece of paper; the Ross School of Business is the experience. By studying abroad, the world will be yours. You just have to seize it.
I’m Maximillian C. Garcia III, a young whippersnapper hailing from the small town of Rancho Cucamonga, California. I am majoring in Finance with a minor in Performance Arts Management at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. My goal in life is to continuously explore my curiosity of the unknown. Finally, I fence the Sabre Blade on the Michigan Fencing Club to keep myself strategically growing and living up to learning about the unknown!
Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.