I grew up in the suburbs in North Carolina and got my bachelor's degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. But it wasn't until I left Raleigh, N.C., to pursue a job in New York City that I realized how impactful diversity can be when it comes to shaping my own perspectives. Hearing about cultures, religions and values that differed wildly from my own shaped my understanding of the world, of people and of business.
Gaining this appreciation for surrounding myself with people who could teach me about new places, new languages and new cultures (and especially new foods!) reinforced my desire to expand my understanding of global cultures during my MBA. Fortunately, Maryland Smith has provided me a community with people from more than a dozen different countries, from places as far away from home as China and as close as Raleigh.
The rich, cultural community at Smith has allowed me to make meaningful connections with people willing to share some part of their own culture with me; with people similarly interested in learning about my culture. My international peers have granted me the ability to ask questions both simple and complex, and always give me the benefit of the doubt as I learn the fundamentals of their country’s culture.
Having the opportunity to learn and speak freely about so many global communities will empower me both as an intern this summer and as a full-time employee when I finish my time at Maryland Smith. Hearing from so many different countries in class discussion enriches everyone’s understanding of how business is conducted around the globe. Even more than I realized during the application process, the ability to make cross-cultural connections is preparing me to enter an increasingly globalized workforce with confidence and awareness of the critical nuances to my future teammates’ backgrounds and value systems.
To my international classmates who read this, thank you in advance for answering all my questions.
–By Virginia Pierrie. Pierrie is a 2021 MBA Candidate and a Dean’s Fellow. Pierrie is originally from Raleigh, N.C., and worked for four years in corporate communications for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York before coming to Maryland Smith.