Posted by Natalia Varela Donado on
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I must say that this has been, by far, the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding experience of my life. I came to Seattle exactly one year and two months ago with an undergraduate degree in Business, four years of professional experience and a luggage full of expectations, questions, and dreams. I knew from the start that it would not be an easy endeavor, but nothing ever prepared me for the life-changing experience that was ahead of me.
Weather was at first the biggest challenge. Coming from a tropical weather city, with no seasons, where the sun shines everyday throughout the entire year, the Emerald city was a bit of a change. As I started my immersion in the program, a lot of things started changing. Not only was I learning a lot about business practices and theories, but I was increasingly learning about myself, about how to become a better leader, discovering my strengths, and leveraging them to improve my performance in every area of my life.
One of the major things that I have appreciated from my experience at Seattle University is my ability to get in touch with many diverse cultures while being a student. Not only was I able to take course-work related to it, and learn about how culture has an impact on business worldwide, but I was also able to have a first-hand experience with those cultures. My classes were full with people from all over the world, who brought in their own life experiences, and coming from different cultures, made the classes even more enriching and exciting. I also had the chance to learn a lot more about American culture, which for some reason I had thought I knew before, but was very mistaken. Most importantly, as a result of my experience here, I learned that the best way to leverage cultural differences is to acknowledge, understand, and learn from them.
I learned that the best managers are those who can identify the strengths in their own people, help them acknowledge them, and then leverage those in order to improve performance. I was very impressed with the kindness and openness of people in this area, and I enjoyed many cups of coffee with interesting individuals on and near campus.
The most important take-away from my experience at Seattle University, and I believe that for it I can thank the element of Jesuit tradition in my graduate education, is my acknowledgment of the need to have a very positive impact in my community as I continue to achieve both my professional and personal goals along the way. Changing the world might be an unrealistic goal for one individual, but significantly contributing to this change is not. This, above all, has been the greatest lesson I have learned, one that supersedes and guides my new path as an international business manager.