While working as a consultant in Atlanta, Erica Good saw the increasing demand for consultants with Portuguese language skills to staff Brazilian projects. Having travelled there as a tourist, she was interested in learning Portuguese and about Brazil’s emerging market in greater depth. So when she started UCLA Anderson’s MBA Program last year, she started looking into study abroad opportunities in Brazil.
“At UCLA Anderson, students have an opportunity to study at a wide range of International Exchange partner schools. The school is in a network of top business schools that promotes exchanges around the world. And because we’re on the quarter system, it’s particularly doable since students aren’t gone an entire semester – you don’t miss as much of the Anderson experience in LA,” says Good, who studied abroad last fall at COPPEAD at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro where she took classes on intercultural negotiation, international logistics, and brand management.
“It was such an amazing experience,” she says. “I really wanted to learn about doing business in Brazil and I got a strong handle on that. I also really enjoyed meeting the other Brazilian students and I got to see quite a bit of South America by travelling on the weekends to places like Patagonia and Machu Picchu.”
The biggest challenge, notes Good, was learning a new language. “I had some Spanish skills before I left and thought that would help me learn Portuguese, but they are very different languages. After being in Brazil for a quarter, I can now read Portuguese pretty well, but because of my accent I think I understand others better than they understand me.”
Since she was studying abroad last fall during recruiting season, Good had a more customized experience looking for a post-graduation consulting job. “Before I left, I did all of my networking by talking to recruiters, meeting with Anderson alumni at consulting firms, and talking to current students who had interned at those companies over the summer. In Brazil, I did the first round of interviews by phone and flew back to LA for final round. When I interviewed with McKinsey, I actually went to their Rio office and did a teleconference with their LA office,” she says, adding that recruiters were especially interested in her study abroad experience because of the demand for consultants on Brazilian projects.
Having accepted an offer to join McKinsey’s LA office after graduation, Good says that her study abroad experience has been a highlight of her time at Anderson. “It really gave me a chance to see business in practice in a completely different cultural context. I would definitely recommend that other students do a study abroad during their time at UCLA Anderson to learn about business from a different perspective and experience a new culture.”