-What made you decide to study in Taiwan?
There were multiple reasons why I decided to study in Taiwan. Firstly, I am from El Salvador and at that time, we were able to enroll the ICDF program. Secondly, at the time, I had a friend who had already been studying IBT and I think it was him, who really inspired me to go and apply for the scholarship. So that's a little bit how it was back then. To be honest, I didn't know much about Taiwan neither the ICDF program at the time, but I loved the idea of living there, going to this international school, studying abroad and it turned out great. Unfortunately, we don't have it anymore.
-Why did you choose to study at MCU?
At the time of selection, I didn't speak any Chinese. Moreover, there were not that many business related programs taught in English in Taipei or in Taiwan as a whole, so I found it very interesting that the MCU had an international program mainly taught in English. At that time, a lot of the programs were in Chinese and I remember that I had this other opportunity to apply for another program where I had to learn Chinese for a year prior to enrolling the college, but that seemed extremely challenging.
-Have you always aspired towards the business field?
Yes, I have. Before I enrolled MCU, I studied economics for year and half at university in El Salvador. I have always been interested in studying something related to business, because I thought that the principles from these fields could be applied in many industries. It's very diverse in that way. For instance, after your studies, you can specialize more on one industry or you can pursue your master's degree in business unrelated field. Overall, I think that it sets a great foundation for you and allows you to jump into a more specific role, or career path.
-Which courses did you find most interesting? Did they somehow influence your career path?
I think the unique thing about having lived and studied in Taiwan was this multicultural environment that I found myself in. I always liked cross cultural exchanges that we had in school and courses related to communication, including Cross Cultural Communication and History of Modern China, because they were outside of my background, so it was something new for me. Obviously, I also enjoyed courses related to marketing and business, which I was more interested in. They have definitely influenced my career paths, especially in fields of marketing and consumer behavior.
-What skills, which you have learned during the studies, you consider the most important?
In my opinion, presentation skills and group work are very important. I remember we had to do a lot of group projects, which I personally think set a good foundation for students before they enter the labor force, because you always have to work with different people. Furthermore, I also think that taking an ownership of your work is very important. For example, you and other 5 people are working on a project. At the day of presentation everyone is sick and you are the only one who can present. Could you take an ownership of what the group has done? I think that's very important for later in the career. Overall, I think that all these presentations, projects and group activities that we did really teach you a lot.
-What is the most memorable experience you have from the MCU?
There are so many of them. I spent there four years of my life. When I look back, I would say that these were one of the best years in my life. I think being in that environment, in Taiwan was incredible. It shaped me how I am as a person and helped me to mature. When I arrived to Taiwan, I was 18 years old. Nevertheless, I have many nice memories from this time, but to narrow it down I would say that learning Mandarin was one of the most memorable experiences I have from those years. Although some of them might be outside of the IBT program, but for me, it was a whole study experience. I would consider everything as a whole. I think that it has opened my eyes and "doors" to the world. When I compare myself from the time, when I arrived to Taiwan and the time when I graduated, I can conclude that I learned so many things that I felt like I was a different person. Right now, I perceive things differently, and I see my role in society differently. In my opinion, it has lot do with learning the language. Although these were non credit courses, it was still a very memorable experience. Another things, which I will never forget about are obviously all the friends that I made, all the things that we did, all the fun that we had. I made friends from everywhere around the world, and that is something, which I could have only gotten in the International College. Even now, years later, I know I can travel to so many countries and I will still have friends there. Maybe not right now during COVID, but my point is that these experiences of being with people from different parts of the world were definitely very memorable and before my studies in Taiwan, I had never experienced it at any point in my life.
-What was the biggest lesson you learned during your studies?
Living in Taiwan itself taught me many things. I learned a lot from Taiwanese people in terms of friendliness, politeness and respect. Generally speaking, I think it made me a better person. However, It was a cultural difference between my country and Taiwan that taught me many new things and made me to think about questions, such as what is your place in the society? How to be a better person? How to be more empathetic to people around you? Etc. Regarding the biggest lesson, which I learned in school, it is definitely to make a contribution to a project, especially group projects. I always think about how I am contributing to a project, how I can represent the work that I have done, etc. Moreover, my stay in Taiwan taught me how to be disciplined in following schedules and meeting all the deadlines and I think that's also a very important lesson, which I learned, because later in life it had definitely helped to be more organized and disciplined person.
-How did you manage a transition from student life to professional life?
I think the shock is bigger in the later years of studying. I mean the last one or two years of college. I think that's the hardest adjustment, because in the junior and the senior year you probably have less classes. So if I had free time, I would have used it to do something more productive and meaningful, such as an internship or something outside of school, which would be beneficial for my career. I didn't do that, so the shock was immediate as soon as I graduated. However, after some time, you get used to it. The fact that you have to go to a job makes you get used to it easily. But I think that if you are a disciplined person in school, it shouldn't be a big problem. At the beginning of your studies, you also have to show up to 8 A.M. Calculus class. So I'm pretty sure that you can go to work at 9 A.M.. I don't think that it's something too extraordinary, but I would really recommend that you if you have extra free time, try to be more productive.
-In your opinion, what are the most important skills, which you need if you want to succeed in professional life?
I think communication skills are very important. I don't only mean how you talk to other people, but also how you present yourself, how you communicate about your experience and the things that you can do, because if you get hired for a job, an internship or you are just applying for a new program, lot of times it is about how people perceive you. Obviously, you can prove things that you have worked on and the skills that you have. For instance, let's assume that if you want to go into finance, you have to know your numbers. However, a lot of times it is not only about numbers. It's also about presenting skills, because from time to time you will need to give a presentation and that's the time when people perceive you and the way you communicate. There could be a lot of work in the background that people don't necessarily see, but it is all about how you deliver the results and how you communicate them. I found this extremely important. So I think all the presentations and group projects serve a purpose and I do see it very useful in a professional life.
- Currently, you work as a sales manager in Hong Kong, what’s your next goal? How are you working towards your goal?
Living and working here have been a goal for me for some time, because Hong Kong is a very international city. It's a very significant economic power, that I have always looked up to and had that aspiration of living and working here. I was lucky to find an opportunity here, but I still look ahead and also always think about what is going to be my next move. I think I would definitely want to do a master's degree, which I have not done yet. I have been working for a few years and I think I definitely would want to do it at some point in the near future. Because now I have a work experience, so I have a clearer understanding of what I would want to study. I think I wasn't ready when I graduated from university because I had no work experience. But now, after years of working, I can say more clearly what that could be.
-What motivates you, so that you are able to achieve your goals?
I always see people around me. For example, older friends, or even bosses who probably at some point in their lives were like me, and I always see how they have succeeded in their life. That motivates me the most. I always tell myself: "If they can do it, so can I!" I think successful people are also like anyone else. It could be any of us. So I always try to think, what opportunities they had or if I am doing the best I can do with the opportunities I was given. Probably not. Nevertheless, I always try to think about that.
-What is your personal motto? Who is your idol / who have you always looked up to?
Generally speaking, I would say that people who I met during my career, sometimes colleagues or superiors, like managers or bosses. People, who created something meaningful for not only themselves, but for a society. People who found companies and employ people. I see people around me who have succeeded in their lifes with sometimes even less opportunities and how they have overcome challenges poverty or different kinds of things. I think these people are the ones, who I probably look up to the most. I always think about my former boss in China. He has been living in China for over 20 years. He moved there at a time, when China was not as developed as it is today. So he took advantage of that and he founded a successful company. If you try to do that now, it will not be as easy, because the world has changed and developed. Nevertheless, he probably had to face some challenges too, but he still made the best out of that opportunity. And that really makes me look up to someone like him.
-What was that one thing that encouraged you to power through when things got hard?
I always think about the times when I was studying abroad alone, especially during holidays. I always thought about what I'm doing has a purpose and it's part of a journey of something that I want to do. Maybe me and my family will reunite one day, spend holidays like we used to and all of us will be in a better position not only personally, but also professionally. Moreover, I always try to think that everything I'm doing might serve a purpose. Also, when I had to overcome things that maybe seemed difficult at the moment, but then later seem that they had a meaning. I think that's what keeps me going. To conclude it, I would say, just always keep your goals in mind and it will get you through things.
-With the global pandemic limiting work opportunities, what advice would you give current students who are looking for an internship?
With the pandemic, we had to transition everything to online. So I think your online presence and again how you communicate, what your aspirations and interests are are in the right way. I believe that using online tools to present who you are and what your interests and career goals are is the most important thing to do, because with the current situation, there is in no other way to present yourself. Right now, you have an opportunity to present yourself in the way that you want to be seen. Even thought it's still possible to do things in person, but if you are seeking to be somewhere else in near future, you definitely have to rely on your online persona.