Before coming to Madison to start my MBA in Strategic Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin, I was certainly very familiar with such places as Miami and Tampa in Florida, but I knew almost nothing about the Midwest. Nevertheless, with excitement and expectation, I looked forward to spending the next one and a half years of my life in this new environment, trying to forge expertise in HR Management and learning as much as possible about its culture and people. So far, I cannot say that I have become disappointed. Quite the contrary, it has already been a real blast to study and live here.
However, I have to admit that there have been several challenges, particularly in the internship hunt. It has been extremely hard to find companies in the United States that are willing to provide the necessary visa sponsorship for foreign professionals pursuing American MBAs. In this context, management students coming from Latin America spend a substantial amount of time trying to find those few opportunities available in the American market. Fortunately, we Latinos are not alone in this arduous search. There is out there an organization that can give us a good helping hand if we do our homework. Its name is Prospanica, previously known as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.
This thirty-four-year-old association of Hispanic MBAs and business professionals is focused on empowering and enabling Hispanic professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential. It has chapters all over the country that offer lectures, meetings, and other types of career-enhancing activities. One of its most important events is its annual Career Expo. The most recent Expo took place in New Orleans just a couple of weeks ago. It was a huge opportunity for Latinos and Latinas to learn more firsthand about American companies that seek to recruit Hispanic management professionals. It was also a great chance for the network given the fact that the event is always attended by MBA students from different parts of the United States.
This year there were companies from all the key industries in the American market such as Bank of America, Abbvie, Mondelez, CVS Health, and ADP. Talking to these professionals was really an eye-opening experience because most of them provided me with good advice on how best to improve my applications, interview skills, networking, and the job search/hunt in general. Additionally, I even met several fellow citizens of mine from Peru and friends with whom I exchanged reliable job search intelligence. During the first two days, the conference facilities were booming with a lot of booths in which HR professionals enthusiastically tried to sell us why their firms are good places for us to develop successful management careers. Some of us were also invited to preliminary interviews, in which the chance of landing a good internship increased dramatically. On the third day, the whole event ended with a blast, a party in which the attendees could relax and have a good time with kindred spirits, and with ambitious professionals who see business as a very good way of achieving their potential and of making a positive impact on their respective communities. In short, it was a great professional and social experience. In my case, I also took advantage of the trip to visit some of the tourist attractions in New Orleans and to strengthen old and new bonds of friendship.