Kate Marks – C.E.S.A.R. Brazil

10647047_10204855081562547_3494004761440398271_nDuring my senior year I had mixed thoughts about what I wanted to pursue post-graduation. I applied, information-interviewed, and dreamt of how my career might manifest with virtually all my spare time. I had two options: stay in Seattle and take an entry-level marketing position, or move to Brazil for a marketing and business development internship at a technology consultancy. You can guess which option my parents were rooting for.

So, like any good daughter, I boarded a flight for Recife, Brazil (located in the Northeastern tip of the country) in August. Some say greater risk yields the greatest reward, and I could not agree more. Working at the 500-person technology solutions company C.E.S.A.R (an acronym in Portuguese that roughly translates to “Recife Center for Advanced Systems Studies”), I have been able to assist in its transition from consultancy to selling products and services. Most of my responsibilities involve research of potential markets; currently, I analyze how we can enter the Brazilian education market using our “know-how” in systems engineering.

The work-culture in Brazil is laid-back, but people are passionate about their field and delivering their best– very similar to the Seattle-tech culture in my experience. A difference I have noticed, however, is how accessible upper management is; on my first day, I had a 2-hour long meeting with our CEO, I was shocked he took the time to meet with me. Overall, the biggest adjustment has been mastering “tech-business casual” in consistent 80-degree weather. Life is tough.

Over the past three months here, I have had an intimate perspective into the Brazilian business environment, and of course broader lifestyle. Although I studied abroad previously, living and working in Recife has given me the opportunity to truly immerse myself in another culture. I have to admit many of the Brazilian stereotypes you hear are true—they are uber-friendly, hospitable, and fun people to be around. My co-workers are constantly joking around, and often spend time together outside of the office.

On the weekends, I have been able to get to know many small beach towns around Recife, and will be traveling to southwestern Brazil in December. C.E.S.A.R  has branches all over the country, so I will visit other colleagues at our offices in São Paulo and Curitiba.

Coming here without knowing the language or specifications of my internship was the riskiest, scariest decision I have ever made, but I have not regretted it for a second. Despite instances of uncertainty, my perspective of the global marketplace has completely changed by working in a developing country dealing with inflation, political-uncertainty, and vast economic disparity. My internship experience here has done what every internship should—let you apply what you have learned in Foster classrooms, case competitions, and clubs to the real world.

As marketing professor Mark Forehand told our class my senior spring quarter, now is the time in our careers to take chances. I encourage any other Foster student considering similar post-graduate options to take the riskier—in my experience, it has led to an exciting, stimulating internship experience I could have never had in my own country.

Note: I arranged my internship through AIESEC, an international student-run organization offering opportunities in over 120 countries. They help immensely with finding an internship that will truly develop your professional skills and goals, as well as with tedious visa procedures! Check them out here–http://www.aiesecseattle.org/.