Monday, October 17, 2016

"It isn't what you know, but who you know".

So, this is less about being in Hong Kong (maybe more about just going abroad in general), but about the windows that can arise from participating in an experience like this. If you're interested in education abroad, you are probably aware of  what is 'supposed to happen to you'. Although, from a first hand account, these things you have heard are quite true.

So what do I mean? You've probably heard that you won't be the same person that you were when you left. That employers are going to love hearing about your experiences. You will meet friends from all over the world. You're going to get lost (trust me, this is so much more awesome than it sounds). You will attain a more global mindset. I can honestly say, all of these things have happened to me at one time or another. Oh, and don't forget how independent you will feel after testing your limits.

I would like to focus on how education abroad can potentially influence your career. Let's talk about the connections. I have friends from all over the world, now. I cannot begin to express how nice it is to have friends on almost every continent. Who knows if I will use one of them to help me get a new position, or vice versa someday. The awesome thing about our BGSU programs, in the business college, is that you will always be meeting other young professionals. For example, I just went to Seoul, South Korea last weekend, and I met up with a friend that I met while studying in France. He was able to show me some of his favorite places, treat me to a traditional Korean dinner, introduce me to his best friend, and provide some absolutely awesome company. One thing I have learned is that unless you are purposely traveling solo, people will shape your experience, and getting the local perspective is much better than aimlessly wandering around snapping photos for your Instagram account.

So, what about the networking/professional aspect? Well, he works at a large bank, and his friend is also a young finance professional. It was really nice to continue to network while in the company of friends, and not having to feel the need to act so professional. On top of that, I would be lying if I said that my travel experiences didn't help me to acquire some of the things I have attained since my first trip. Interviewers almost always want to hear more about what it was like. It is pretty cool to take a substantial amount of time during an interview just to talk about all the fun you have had. Another perk, I now have the chance to visit the PwC office in Hong Kong (I will be interning with PwC in January)! When I asked during my interview, I thought maybe it was a bit far-fetched, but they have accommodated me on both sides of the world. Also, the person I have been chatting with from PwC Hong Kong has been giving me travel advice!

There are also opportunities to network with many other professionals. Recently, it has come to my attention that a BGSU alum living in Hong Kong would like to meet up, and possibly take me to dinner. I have also been invited to meet the creator of a new application. The guy wants to release it internationally, and would like to assemble a global team. To add to that, there are companies visiting campus all of the time. Even if you think you know what you want to do, it is always a benefit to you to increase the size of your network. Tonight, I will be attending a seminar hosted by BNP Paribas, and in two weeks I will be hanging out with the local Bloomberg team.  The opportunities out there are boundless if you desire to achieve and search for them.

Currently, I am sitting in a Pacific Coffee a few tram stops away from campus. It is quite relaxing to get away from all of the students and enjoy a grande hazelnut latte, some banana walnut bread, and write to all of you. I envision myself as a professional telecommuting or on an assignment abroad someday. I think back to when I was a senior in high school, or a freshman in college and had no idea what I wanted. All of this time has allowed for some key moments of clarity, even as I sit in this cafe surrounded by a concrete jungle.

"A Hong Kong second is a New York minute". - unknown