Some people wait until they travel abroad before they worry about developing a global mindset. But Elaine Oves '15, a digital marketing associate with Interal in Berlin, says the process starts at home. "You don't have to travel extensively," she says. "You just have to step outside your comfort zone and interact with people not like yourself. The more you do it, the better you get at it."
Oves says the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business played an important role in developing her global mindset. "Of the countless case studies we did, many were related to U.S. businesses succeeding or failing in the global market," she says.
As an international business major, Oves also studied abroad in Austria and completed two internships in Germany. She says her passion for diversity and cultural curiosity began at birth as she was brought up in both U.S. and Russian cultures.
After graduating from the Smith School in 2015, she went on to pursue a master's in management at HEC in France and a master's in public policy at Freie Universitaet in Germany. Oves is finishing the public policy degree while working at Interal.
Through her globetrotting, Oves has learned how to settle into a new place. "It's daunting," she says. "You don't have friends and a routine. You have to make your place."
She experienced this firsthand when she got to HEC. Many of her classmates knew each other already because they had taken a two-year preparation course prior to beginning their graduate programs. This created a divide between the French and international students, especially given that most international students only come for one semester.
"To get to know people, I had to put myself out there and use what I knew about culture and language," Oves says. "I had to really push to integrate culturally."
For example, international students generally don't take part in student clubs at HEC. When Oves expressed interest in joining a club, she wasn't immediately taken in. Rather she had to ask several times and to promote what she could add to the club experience.
Thanks to her persistence, she was finally accepted and had an expansive cross-cultural experience. "I encourage people to get outside their comfort zone," Oves says. "Even a couple of steps; it goes a long way."
Her ability to understand and appreciate cultural diversity has served her well in her professional life as well. Her awareness of German culture and the German approach to public policy has been important to her internship at Interal.
"The U.S. is more macro in terms of how they assess the political environment," Oves says. "In Germany it is micro to macro. They make small but detailed adjustments to legislation and make changes from the grassroots up. It's much more public oriented."
She says she learned this on the job. "It helps me work better with colleagues," she says. "I can also work better with colleagues in the U.S. to help advise on certain cultural differences in the negotiation process that could serve as a challenge or an advantage"
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.