Tag Archives: international

Graduation Reflections & Going Forward

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And just like that…I am now an International MBA graduate of the Moore School of Business! April and May have been two of the busiest months of my life, completing my last semester of graduate school, preparing for graduation, searching for housing in Greenville, moving across the country, visiting family, and planning summer vacations before my next chapter begins at Michelin.

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Thank you so much for your patience in my time of transition – I can’t wait to be more active on inspirNational again once everything is settled this summer. Right now is one of my first moments in months where I have more than a half hour to spare as I am waiting for my trip to Seattle to begin. I have so many thoughts to share with you about my last few months, including my weekend trips to Savannah, Charleston, and Traverse City, my graduation, and my reflections as I prepare for my next life phase. Over the next several weeks, I will share these thoughts with you.

To begin, I wanted to pass along my graduation speech that I shared at the MBA Soiree on the evening before my graduation. It captures the essence of my IMBA experience and was an honor to represent my class.

“Hi Everyone! My name is Brittany VanderBeek. I am an International MBA graduate in the French track, who studied supply chain management and business analytics. As the MBA Student Association President, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

First of all, thank you to MBA Programs Office for making today possible and for your endless support throughout our MBA journey.

Thank you to the faculty and staff here today who have been there every step of the way – pushing us to reach our potential, growing our understanding of the world, supporting us when we need it most, and cheering us on during our successes.

Thank you to all members of the Student Association for your enthusiasm and hard work to represent the voice of our class and to plan events to strengthen our MBA community.

To our families and friends – thank you all for being here to celebrate the MBA graduates. We couldn’t be more grateful for your support throughout our lives.

To the graduates – it is incredible to think how far we have come. Let’s take a minute to reflect. To the International MBAs – in two or three years we learned another language, completed the core business curriculum, specialized, and earned additional certifications. To the One-Year MBAs – how amazing that you completed all of your business curriculum and certifications in less than a year! At the same time, all of us were maintaining on our relationships and our homes, making new friends, getting involved on campus, going to football and basketball games, and staying in touch with loved ones. Some of us welcomed new life into the world, some of us have said goodbye to loved ones, but all of us have prepared for an incredible life ahead of us. We have had our fair share of challenges, but we have also had some of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. I can say that the Moore community, especially all of you, are what made my experience possible. As I mentioned at our welcome mixer, we have created a lifelong network and community. I hope that we all take what we have learned and soar in our careers throughout the world. I also hope that we never forget our roots at the Moore School and come back to visit.

Let’s toast to the graduating class of 2017 – I couldn’t be more proud to be standing next to all of you! Thank you!”

Reflecting upon graduation, it was one of the most hectic, but also exciting few days of my IMBA experience. I was very grateful for my mom, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s family who attended my ceremony and festivities. I was also grateful to attend my boyfriend’s graduation ceremony from law school, which was an incredible experience because we both graduated at the Horseshoe, one of the University of South Carolina’s idyllic locations. One day I was the graduate and the next day I was the attendee, which made my experience feel full circle. The University of South Carolina business and law schools treated us graduates and our families like gold, with delicious Southern food, cocktails, and live performers (I’ll never forget the steel drummers after my graduation!). I am so happy that I experienced graduation, but I am also glad that I can now move on and relax (or more so travel and visit family) this summer.

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I hope you all have an inspirNational weekend (and holiday weekend for those in the United States)! Off to Seattle for my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding and to visit my best friend from preschool – I can only imagine what stories I will have to share with you over the next couple of weeks!

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Universal Lessons from an International MBA Internship

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Capturing one of my international career insights posts below. For those of you interested in a career in international business or earning an International MBA, I hope that these insights are helpful!


My International MBA (IMBA) program at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business has been an exciting opportunity for me to pause, reflect, refine, and prepare to re-enter the workforce with a global perspective of business, cross-cultural and inclusive managerial skills, and enhanced technical skills in business analytics and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt process improvement.

Half way through my IMBA program, I embarked on an internship journey with Michelin’s Global Leadership Program. The internship provided me with an incredible opportunity to engage in challenging projects in supply chain management and human resources, to gain broad exposure to the business and senior leaders, and to give back to the community. I couldn’t have asked for a more empowering or exciting internship.

Image Source: BSN International

Image Source: BSN International

Throughout my internship, I learned some universal lessons that I will carry with me throughout my career and wanted to pass along to others working on their MBA or interested in getting an MBA.

  1. Be humble. Humility is one of the most impactful, yet often forgotten about, leadership qualities. So often getting an MBA and the interviewing process lead people to brag and have a “better than” attitude, rather than focusing on what they can do for others and what teams can achieve together. When we remember that we are all people, we become much easier to work with and work for as managers.
  2. Manage your 3P’s – Purpose, People, and Projects. I “coined” these 3P’s to help me juggle priorities throughout the summer. First, focusing on purpose has reminded me to take a step back and remember why I am here and what my vision is for the world. Then, focusing on people has reinforced the importance of family, friends, and co-workers in my daily decisions and actions. People are what make the world go ‘round. They bring joy to our days, impact our lives, challenge us to improve, and influence our future as our advocates. Grounded by my first priorities of purpose and people, I am able to strategize, innovate, manage, and execute my projects well.
  3. Ask questions. As my dad always reminds me, when you ask for something, the worst answer you will get is “no.” So, why not ask questions? My curious and inquisitive nature has enabled me to learn from more people than ever expected and has helped me be resourceful and efficient this summer.
  4. Be opportunistic. Related to asking questions, it is important to seek out opportunities and voice your ideas whenever possible. Seeking opportunities, finding connections, and utilizing strengths and resources of a team has enabled me to develop an inaugural sustainability collaboration with Michelin, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take the backroads. This is a literal and metaphorical lesson. The backroads may take longer when we are traveling, but they often help us avoid traffic and are more predictable for transit timing. They also help us discover and appreciate new areas that we may have not otherwise experienced by taking the direct route. This also applies to the workplace, where the direct route may seem the most obvious to complete a project, but the backroads may lead us to more innovative thinking, new connections, and new opportunities. Something to consider as we are working on project management in our MBAs and beyond.

As always, this is an open dialogue. I would be grateful to hear from those of you who have earned (or are pursuing) your MBA and have lessons to share with the international community.

International Love

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How are love and relationships comprehended throughout the world? This has been the fascinating topic of conversation in my French class and with my host family over the past week.

My classmates throughout the world have been optimistic about love, saying that true love lasts forever and there is no such thing as a bad ending to love. We talked about the various types of relationships in France, including a civil union, a PACs and marriage. We compared our own customs (United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Scotland, Poland, Japan, and Germany) to those in France. Each of our home countries define relationships differently: some focus on the religious commitment, some focus on the financial benefits, some focus on equality for all, and others focus on how society is organized. While we found that the semantics and government benefits of relationships vary by country, we were comforted to know that true love unites us all.

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The unity of love made me more excited to learn about the French and what love lessons I could apply anywhere in the world. I spoke with my host mom about love and relationships over dinner this week. I told her I respected her opinion as she has been married for 35 years! My host mom made love seem so simple. She said the first important test to know whether your significant other is “the one” is: when you see your significant other for the first time in a while, how do you feel? If he/she makes you feel happy and brings butterflies to your stomach, you should be with him/her. She also said that in order to make her 35 year marriage successful she looked for 3 values in her husband: trust, esteem, and having fun together. She defined esteem as her husband being respected by others and therefore is an honor to be around. With these values and an overall sentiment of happiness with your significant other, my host mom thinks that your relationship can withstand time. I plan to continue the conversation about love and relationships, as I think they are some of the most mysterious parts about life. We can all stand to learn from others about how to find true love and have lifelong relationships. What other lessons about international love have you learned during your travels?

 

How to Study Abroad Without Studying Abroad

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Craving travel? Want to study abroad but you do not have time or your school program does not offer study abroad options?

Source: thestudyabroadblog.com

Source: thestudyabroadblog.com

I have realized in my international business program that it is possible to study abroad without actually leaving your campus or the comforts of your home. For students, studying abroad goes beyond traveling to a new country. How can you study abroad in your daily life?

  • Get to know your classmates. More often than not, universities are attracting diverse students from throughout the world. Your classmates can give you an insider view of international cultures and customs.
  • Get to know your professors. Similar to my note above, universities often recruit diverse faculty members. If you have a particular country of interest, you can reach out to professors to learn about their experience abroad and their research. Most professors love to share their experiences, particularly related to their research.
  • Listen to international radio stations. TuneIn Radio offers over 100,000 radio stations that give you with an international music experience. Hearing foreign languages in music is also an effective way to improve language comprehension when you are studying foreign languages.
  • Join university clubs that relate to your country of interest. For example, many universities offer salsa clubs, international sports clubs or food tasting events. I am participating in a wine and beer club to learn about wine and beer throughout the world.
  • Attend local concerts and events relating to international cultures. Many cities offer international performances, art exhibits, and more to develop cross-cultural understanding in the community.

All of these ideas help you have an inspirNational experience while living on campus, regardless of whether you are studying at your local university or a foreign university. What other ideas do you have to study abroad without actually studying abroad?

The Door That Opens

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Source: Quotes Valley

Source: Quotes Valley

This month, my goal is to focus on the door that opens!

I am very excited to embark on a new adventure to Columbia, South Carolina to earn my International MBA from the University of South Carolina. In the coming months, inspirNational will experience a French influence, as I will be studying French to add to my language and culture repertoire. In addition to living in South Carolina for the next two years, I will spend next January through April in Paris. I look forward to capturing inspirNational insights and sharing them with you as I enter this new life phase. Bon voyage!

We Are Considered Beautiful Somewhere

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When I first discovered my friend, Maddie Knapp’s blog, Celebrating Curves, I became inspired to think about international beauty. Throughout my travels, I have learned that each place defines beauty differently. With diverse perspectives on beauty, it is important for us to be comfortable in our own skin and cherish our bodies.

I scanned several articles and social media to learn the most strongly held beliefs about international beauty.

In the article, How Beauty is Defined Throughout the World, it was interesting to see the differences in beauty in various countries, compared to a United States perspective:

  • United States:  Americans often value long, flowy hair, bronzed skin, a face free of wrinkles and a thin frame.
  • Ethiopia: In the Ethiopia’s Karo tribe, beauty is emphasized with body scars.  The scars cut onto the stomachs of women at childhood are seen as beautiful adornments meant to attract men who are husband material.
  • Kenya:   To the Masai tribe of Kenya, long, stretched earlobes and low-maintenance buzz cuts are the ideal. Women are known to shave their heads and use everything from elephant tusks to twigs to pierce and stretch their lobes to become more attractive.
  • Burma and Thailand: Long, giraffe-like necks are the ultimate sign of beauty and female elegance to the Kayan tribe. At 5 years old, Kayan women start priming their necks with heavy brass rings. Each year, more coils are added, pushing down their shoulders and creating the effect of a longer neck. If you thought the phrase “beauty is pain” was referring to brow-waxing, keep in mind that the rings in this centuries-old ritual can weigh up the 22 pounds.
  • China and Japan: In various parts of Asia, pale, white skin is revered as a sign of affluence and attractiveness. In Japan, women avoid the sun at all costs (hello, parasols), while skin-care products with whitening agents are the norm in places like China and Thailand. Sometimes, it’s hard to find products without bleaching properties.
  • New Zealand: Tattooing is a sacred ritual to the Maori people of New Zealand, and not something parents warn their teenagers they’ll one day regret. Traditionally, a chisel was used to carve grooves into the skin (though today, tattoo machines are the norm), creating swirling tattoos called Ta-moko. Women with tattooed lips and chins and full, blue lips are considered the most beautiful.
  • Mauritania: While Americans are perpetually dieting and striving to be thin, Western African cultures find women who are overweight to be the most beautiful — the more stretch marks, the better. In the past, it wasn’t completely unheard of for families in Mauritania to send their daughters to “fat farms,” camps that would force-feed girls 16,000 calories a day to help them reach their ideal weight. Fuller figures are still the ideal, and fattening camel’s and cow’s milk are go-tos for plumping up, but thankfully, the government now frowns upon the unpleasant force feeding.
  • Iran: Nose jobs seem like a staple in the image-conscious U.S., but Iran is actually the rhinoplasty capital of the world. Both men and women are proud to show off their procedures — a sign of their social status and their path on the route to beauty. So much so that they’ll often wear their bandages much longer than needed, while others will purchase surgical tape to wear, even if they haven’t gone under the knife.
  • India: Instead of accessorizing with extravagant jewelry, women in India turn to nose rings, bindis and henna to make themselves more attractive for festivals and celebrations, like weddings. Brides in particular will often wear a dot of red powder on the face known as a kumkum to look more beautiful.
  • Japan: Stick straight hair is seen as the norm, and therefore, the most beautiful hair texture. Japanese women with wavier patterns have become pros at getting this look, turning to chemicals and flat irons to keep their hair as sleek as possible. It’s no surprise that thermal reconditioning — using a bond-breaking chemical and meticulous flat-ironing to straighten hair — is referred to as Japanese hair straightening here in the U.S.
Source: Women's Health Magazine

Source: Women’s Health Magazine

I found an eye-opening Business Insider article which demonstrates through photographs how 19 different countries define beauty. According to the article:

“Journalist Esther Honig used the online marketplace Fiverr to send out a photo of herself to graphic designers in more than 20 countries.

Their task: to edit the photo to make Honig look “beautiful” — however the designer defined the term.

The results are telling. Each photo represents the personal and cultural beauty standards of the designer, with the American editor giving Honig bright blue eyes and long hair, and the Israeli designer darkening her eyes and skin.”

With the varying definitions and different approaches to beauty, we are reminded to embrace our natural features. Even if we do not feel beautiful where we live or travel, our features are likely attractive somewhere in the world. Like the fun phrase, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” we should all remember that “we are considered beautiful somewhere.”

International Thanksgiving

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When I first started volunteering as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher with international students, I realized I had the exciting opportunity to not only teach them English, but also United States customs. At the same time, I was able to learn about the students’ native languages and customs (ranging from Chinese to Japanese to Spanish to Arabic).

When Thanksgiving came around, I wanted to teach my students about Thanksgiving because of its significance in the United States. I also wanted to learn about international holiday customs, so I decided to plan an international Thanksgiving potluck. I invited the students over for dinner, where each student brought a favorite dish from his/her home country. 283199_10151332017879524_1675504135_n Everyone who attended explained his/her favorite dish, its significance to his/her home country, and how he/she would celebrate holidays with family and friends. It was an enlightening experience to not only learn about each other’s differences, but also to learn about the many similarities we experienced across borders. I became inspired to think globally any time I celebrate a holiday. I also realized that while our customs and the meanings of holidays may differ throughout the world, we are all united by our love for family, friends, good food, and quality time together. 283269_10151332017904524_85080305_nInspired to have an international Thanksgiving? One great idea is to invite your friends over for “friendsgiving” and have them bring a dish that represents their heritage. I also found this article with international recipes to give you ideas: 10 International Dishes for Thanksgiving. Below is one of my favorite points from the article:

“America is a country of immigrants, so it’s only fitting that we include international dishes in our national day of thanks. Doing so will not only enhance the standard Thanksgiving menu, it’ll help you learn about other cultures. Or just give you an excuse to eat pasta on Turkey Day. Either way, you win!”

I hope this post reminds you of the inspirNational mindset to think global and act local.  I would love hear stories about how you celebrate international Thanksgiving, both in the United States and abroad (in the comments section below). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!