Editor’s note: This Q&A is sponsored by Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business.
Name: Monica Priscila Mendoza Ramos
City and country where you’re from: Bogota, Colombia
Employer and title: CARE, Fellow at the Office of the President
Global Atlanta: What made this program right for you?
Ms. Mendoza: Since I graduated with an economics degree back in 2015, I was decided to continue my education by pursuing a master’s. When I moved to Atlanta in the same year, I explored different options when it comes to graduate schools. While doing research, I learned that the J. Mack Robinson College of Business was a pioneer on innovation, which really caught my attention.
I have always liked international affairs, but the key factor that made me decide to enroll was the fact that classes were during the evening, which gave me the opportunity to keep my full-time job while being a student.
Global Atlanta: Why did you choose the MIB instead of an MBA or another business degree at a different institution?
Ms. Mendoza: Since I am a foreigner I really liked the international focus. I wanted a program that gave me the opportunity to have the knowledge to be successful abroad, and even though I could have taken IB classes while doing an MBA, I wanted to focus 100 percent of my efforts to learn about the global marketplace and its characteristics when it comes to doing business.
Global Atlanta: How important was it — from a cost and time perspective — that the degree is only one year?
Very important! At the beginning of the program, I was eager to change my job and find new opportunities in an industry that interest me. I was working as an Office Manager at a Dental Office at the beginning of the program which was not that interest to me. This job got me through school but it was not something I wanted to keep doing. The fact that the program was one year was im[portant to me because that would give me the opportunity to advance my career faster. At the same time when it comes to cost, it was also a lot more affordable than a two-year program. I was able to find a fellowship in September at CARE USA, a non-profit organization and strives to eliminate poverty in the world, which aligns a lot better with my academic background and interests.
Which programmatic aspects of the MIB do you feel are the most unique and beneficial for your real-world career?
The program is very applicable to real life. In comparison to my bachelor’s degree which was very theoretical, this master’s is much more applicable and is very useful! We even worked with companies expanding internationally. Much of the curriculum is based on real-life case studies.
How is this program different from what is offered in your country, and what about Atlanta makes it a great place to learn global business?
Master’s degrees exist in my country (Colombia), but for an international career having a degree from a Colombian university does not add high recognition. On the other side, having an American degree does add value to your resume.
I was born and raised in a big city with a lot of diversity (Bogota), so coming to Atlanta was a cultural shock. Even though many consider Atlanta a big city, for me, it is a mid-size city in the process of growing. It is interesting to be able to get my degree in Atlanta because it is growing at a really fast pace and it is becoming a hub for business in the South. There are a lot of Fortune 500 companies based in Atlanta, which makes the city a great place for job opportunities.
Can you share one or more experiential aspects of the program — study-abroad trip, guest speakers, or field visits — that really brought home a lesson that would have been hard to learn in the classroom?
We constantly had guest speakers adding value to the classes, including CEOs, other executives and experts in different industries. It is great to be able to learn from those people and to be able to share their knowledge and experience.
At the same time, I was able to go to a Study Abroad Program to South Africa during the Summer (for an additional cost) which really open my mind to new things. Being there was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot from the culture as well as their business and economy. We had the opportunity to visit multinational companies, local companies, government offices, universities, and cultural villages.
Finally, we visited the Port of Savannah to see global business in action. Then, one of the class projects was helping a European star-up that was trying to expand internationally. It was great to do this project because we were dealing with a real company, a real product and real people!
What was the most meaningful thing you learned through the program about crossing borders and reaching into new cultures when conducting business?
The most valuable thing I learned was that international business is all about relationships and how well you are able to adapt to different cultures and environments.
Now armed with the MIB, what’s your next move?
My next move is to finish my fellowship and get a full-time job at CARE USA. I also want to keep learning French, since I am already fluent in Spanish and English.