by Emma Livingston, Staff Writer
Summertime is when T-Birds migrate across the US and around the globe to put what they’ve learned in class into practice, or to take a break from hectic class schedules and enjoy some needed downtime. I asked 13 Thunderbird students these questions: Where are you and what are you doing this summer? Their answers are as diverse as our student body.
Jasmine Pham (MBA ’16, Vietnam) is in Phoenix, AZ doing a product management internship with SkyTouch Technology, a company that provides hotel property management systems. She is putting into practice many of the concepts taught in Professor Youngdahl’s Leading Projects class, including Kanban, Agile, and Waterfall development methods. She says she’s learned a good deal about the work environment in the US. “People work hard, timely, efficiently, but maintain a good work-life balance,” she says. “I also understand the cultural difference, where goal and result here are more valued than relationship. People are nice but straightforward.”
Leah Funk (MA ’15, USA) is in Glendale, AZ working a sales and marketing internship. She’s learning how “extremely complicated things are in the travel industry” and she’s also doing some fun travel on her own, discovering “all things awesome/strange/unique/kitschy that exist in Arizona” via Roadside Arizona (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/map/az).
David Roman (MBA ’16, USA) has returned from his travels in Europe and is working for Caliber, a boutique real estate wealth development company, helping them market a new global industry convergence community in Casa Grande. “Thus far I’ve learned more about the Spanish language and culture, explored the world of real estate investment and crowdfunding, plus gained first-hand glimpses into many diverse businesses in the Phoenix entrepreneurship community. It’s been an incredible (if not lucrative) summer, and I can’t wait to serve,” David says. The best thing he’s done so far this summer was work for a Spanish family on the island of Mallorca, a connection he made through this website: www.workaway.info.
Yuya Ota (MBA ’16, Japan) is also in Phoenix, living on campus, but he jumps back and forth from Phoenix to New York City so he can wash dishes and do laundry for his wife who lives there. He is enjoying the small, close-knit T-Bird community on campus during the summer. He has also spent time volunteering with the Salvation Army distributing water in downtown Phoenix. “I learned doing small things (such as just distributing water) can actually make lots of people (including me) happy,” he says.
Pia Oestlien (MBA ’16, USA) is finishing up the first phase of her summer, which she has spent relaxing and visiting friends and family in the San Francisco Bay area. She’s getting to know her year-old niece who she describes as “so stinking adorable.” She also took part in a women’s conference in New Orleans. “I came home feeling quite empowered,” she says. Pia made a conscious decision not to work this summer: “It’s good to take time off to re-center oneself.” Currently, Pia is enjoying one last week of relaxation on Lake Tahoe, and then it’s back to Phoenix to focus on her job search and networking. “IBIC, here I come!”
Raphael Rique’s (MBA ’16, Brazil) summer has been more work-intensive so far. He is living in LA and working six days a week as an International Trade intern with an American-Colombian trading company dealing mostly in fruit products. Raphael is working on developing new buying markets, organizing quality control, and participating in the commercial negotiations and distribution of gooseberries (which, I’ll admit, is a fruit I have never tried). Despite the valuable learning he’s taken from his work (organize your schedule, get plenty of sleep and exercise, eat healthy, and reduce anxiety), the best thing he’s done so far this summer is outside of work, visiting “the amazing beaches and sightseeing places that California has to offer.”
Jorge Cespedes (MBA ’16, Peru) is living in the lakeside town of Erie, Pennsylvania where he is working for GE Transportation’s Mining Division as a summer associate in the company’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program. This summer he has made extensive use of Thunderbird’s training in global management as he is working on five different global projects with Japan, China, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Mexico, and India. He’s learned that global management doesn’t take a special breed of human with innate skill, but that this skill can be trained. “Global management requires a particular leadership style. You have to focus your team on the big drivers of growth or results in the global arena.” Jorge’s greatest accomplishment this summer, however, has come outside of work. “Without a doubt, I’m glad to be drawing again,” he says.
Neetika Varma (MBA ’15, India) is spending the summer in “the Vacation Land of Maine.” She is living in Portland working in an HR internship with WEX Inc. “I have learned that HR as a function is even more complex than I thought and the changes which you get to drive in this role impact the culture and the employees of the organization. Hence it is of utmost importance to scrutinize each and every suggestion and educate everyone on the changes.” Even though the work is challenging, “at the end of the day, you still have time to do so much more.” The best thing Neetika has done this summer is a road trip she took with her husband Nitin through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. “It was going through small roads, crossing countryside, stopping at unknown places, and very adventurous.”
Madiha Nasrullah (MBA ’15, Pakistan) is working at BERA, a start-up consultancy firm for brands, and living right in the heart of New York City. Surprisingly, for this T-Bird who doesn’t drink, “I am an expert in spirits now!” thanks to handling the Captain Morgan portfolio. She says the experience is “very rewarding” since she gets to put in practice the concepts she learned in Professor Inkpen’s Corporate Strategy class and Professor Auh’s marketing classes. “Living in New York has been pretty exciting,” she says. “It’s the city that never sleeps, and the subway is so great you can go anywhere and do anything.” The best thing Madiha has done this summer (and also her friend Sylvia who came to visit her) is trying this famous “cookie cup” from Dominique Abseil Bakery. “It’s so much fun to eat/drink this cookie!!” she raves.
Sylvia Imbrock (MBA ’15, USA) is living in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., interning at Booz Allen Hamilton, a major federal contractor. “My team is creating a life cycle cost estimate for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, which will impact millions of veterans’ access to healthcare.” Sylvia is getting a first hand look into the unique challenges of being a consultant. “Consulting can involve a fair bit of detective work. Relevant deliverables are hard to make, and will only be achieved if you look beyond the facts and data a client readily offers. Understanding the personalities, incentive structure, hierarchy, and culture of each client/representative you work with is key to getting the information you need to do your job well.” Beyond this, Sylvia has enjoyed the “cultural hub” that is the east coast of the US. And she has taken seriously the words of her career manager: “Sleep deficit is a real thing with negative effects on work quality. Sleep!”
Mohamed Vall (MBA ’16, Mauritania) is also in DC, working as a creative development intern for Creative Associates International. The company provides consulting services to USAID and other international development organizations. “The work is very exciting and I’m learning a lot about USAID contracts and business development in this industry,” Mohamed says.
Kaladhar Rachabathuni (MBA ’15, India) is spending his summer in his hometown of Hyderabad, India. He’s looking after the operations side of his family business as well as pursuing an online course on Regional Industrial Analysis. The best time he’s had this summer can be seen in the picture below. “You might have already got a glimpse, from all the Indian peers at Tbird, of how grand Indian weddings are, and when its your BEST friend’s wedding it can’t get any better than that. My best friend Srilekhya’s wedding was the best this summer.”
Vince Vu (MBA ’16, Vietnam) is doing an internship for a venture capital firm based out of Bangkok. The firm invests in tech startups across the Southeast Asia region. Vince’s focus is sourcing potential investments in Vietnam and Indonesia. Vince says, “I have learned tons about the VC and startup scene in the SEA region. At the same time, I understand the difference in working culture among SEA colleagues.” Vince also has had the opportunity to share delicious meals with his Thunderbird colleagues Paul and Rawan, in Bangkok.
To guess what each of the T-Birds I interviewed this summer can see outside their windows, see my article: Pop Quiz! What’s Outside Your Window?