Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently asked Alex Tran '19 to share his unique experience during this past winter break. Alex’s “WINTER BREAK “WOW”” STORY is part of his Smith journey and it may be an inspiration to others. It may also be the beginning of what will distinguish him during networking opportunities and job interviews. Alex is a finance and information systems double major with a minor in sustainability studies.
Successful navigation of the SMITH JOURNEY requires involvement with colleagues, professors, professionals, clubs and organizations here at the Smith School, across campus and in the outside “real” world of business. Here is what students are challenged to do in each of their four years at Smith:
Freshmen: “Build Your Brand” through the SmithStart program.
Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path” to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy.
Juniors:”Command Your Career” to ensure that you are well positioned for your professional journey.
Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience” with an arsenal of tools, knowledge, and networks, so that you are able to embrace your experience and celebrate your success.
Dean Mullins: Tell us what you did this winter break?
Alex: I culminated my exchange semester in Vienna, Austria, with a 25-day trip around Europe. I visited eight cities and along the way I experienced a variety of cultures, tried different cuisines, practiced my language skills, and met diverse people.
Dean Mullins: What were the highlights of your experience?
Alex: My favorite parts of this trip were experiencing New Year’s Eve in Berlin, seeing the Eiffel Tower at night in Paris, watching “Wicked” in London’s West End theatre, and listening to bands play traditional Irish music in pubs. Every city had its own unique twist, and it was amazing to experience all the local customs of each city.
Dean Mullins: How/when/why did you plan this experience?
Alex: Before I left for my fall semester study abroad I decided that because I was already going to be in Europe during the winter, I might as well stay for the duration of winter break. I thought that the opportunity to travel abroad without having to take classes would be too good to pass up, and this decision paid off.
Dean Mullins: Has this experience helped you to clarify your professional and/or personal goal(s)?
Alex: I’ve steered my career towards the consulting field, but I was always worried about having to travel to foreign cities without knowing many people. After this experience, in addition to studying abroad, I became excited about the opportunity to see new cities and meet new people along the way. The biggest takeaway I got from my experience is that no matter where people are from -- we are all the same. If you are kind to someone, they will be kind to you as well. Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations is not something you should be afraid of, instead it is an opportunity for personal growth.
Dean Mullins: Tell us how your experience might help you continue along the Smith Journey -- Freshmen: “Build Your Brand;” Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path;” Juniors:”Command Your Career;” Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience.”
Alex: Experiences like the one I had this winter break, have allowed me to learn how to talk and interact with diverse people. This has showed me that I want a career that allows me to meet new people and see new places. This has also helped me with interviews and shows that I can be useful when it comes to client-facing work. I decided that consulting is the type of work that I want to pursue and have accepted an internship offer as a business analyst summer scholar with Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations service line.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Alex: Do not waste time doing things you don’t enjoy doing. You should spend your time identifying what characteristics you are looking for in a career and focus your efforts toward attaining your ideal career. Have confidence in yourself, and don’t let yourself give up on your dream career because you think you’re not good enough for it. You may just need to put in a little more effort. Also, I would tell my peers to step out of their comfort zone and take risks. While we are still in college we have the freedom to do the things we want and it would be a shame to waste our youth.
Dean Mullins: What is your dream?
Alex: My dream is to spend a few years in consulting to learn about different industries and to meet as many people as possible. I hope to build up enough capital to open my own restaurant and become a restaurateur.
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Alex: I’m passionate about the Smith School because all the students are so driven to succeed, and all the faculty and staff do so much to help students achieve their goals. It is truly a community, and it would be a waste not to take advantage of all the resources the Smith School has to offer.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.