Exploring Careers & the City of London

Guest Post By: Beatriz Cortez, a Senior studying Accounting and Human Resources Management. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through Business London during Spring Break 2024.

Through this study abroad experience, something I learned about business is the global careers that can be accomplished abroad. Additionally, it was very interesting to see what I had imagined as the typical American companies working and having offices abroad. I was reassured that London is a business hub. We visited a few different companies, and in each of the company visits, I learned something new. In Protiviti, we completed a group discussion using an open brainstorming method. The following day, we visited Google and learned about different work and projects the panelists engage with and how they utilize their knowledge from school in their jobs. We also visited Amazon, and it was very empowering to learn from three different women in the organization and how they discussed retailing and event planning at Amazon. Following this visit, we went to EY and learned about the accounting practice, which is something I found very valuable because of my accounting major. Softbank was another company we visited, and we learned about how the business deals with investment funds and the different portfolios they have as well as learning about a UW alumni’s experience with the firm. Lastly, we visited Starbucks, where we learned how to try and drink our coffee. Something very interesting I learned from this company visit was the actions Starbucks has taken for a while to act in corporate social responsibility compliance and the way the company supported an expat in her current transition back to the States. 

The thing I learned most about myself from studying abroad was getting to put myself out of my comfort zone and not being afraid to say yes and try new things. For example, I explored the city of London with many other students in the cohort, including walking around different markets, exploring the Kew Gardens, and viewing the London Bridge, the Tower of London, The Elizabeth Tower with Big Ben, the London Eye and Kings Cross station where the 9 ¾ station from Harry Potter is located. My study abroad will impact my life and career because I gained a network of UW graduates who work in London and other countries, and I was able to learn about their experience as expatriates it is something I would have never considered before the trip, but after this experience, I would be more willing to try if the right opportunity came at the right time. I would consider working in Europe because of how close other European countries are to each other and the opportunity to travel and visit other cities this would offer. 

I enjoyed staying in St. Giles Hotel because it was very close to many areas of the city, and we accessed other areas of the city through the underground, which was a walk away. For example, one evening we took the underground to Harrods, a very expensive shopping center with designer stores and we just walked around the eight different floors and, on the way, back we took a double-decker bus back to the hotel. I didn’t get to experience the academic scene in London as I did not attend an actual college or university classroom, however, we had a class that prepared us for this trek during the winter quarter. One of the most valuable things from the winter quarter class was preparing us for the networking night through our elevator pitches and providing us with a network of UW alumni. 

It was great getting to know everyone on the trip. Some of my favorite memories include the group dinners, exploring the city, Camden market shopping, and sightseeing the cultural and tourist attractions. Some of the cultural experiences we had were going to Buckingham Palace for the guard change, visiting and going through a tour of Windsor Castle, and doing a tour of the Arsenal soccer team Emirates stadium. We additionally, experienced the underground, which is the city’s public transportation, and it was a great way to experience and visit many places in the city. Describing the city using the five senses, I would say that in many places, we could smell a distinguishing European scent, but I wasn’t able to discover the perfume or collagen. The city was busy, and there were always people walking around with many different sounds, including the buses and the variety of languages spoken. We saw tall skyscrapers and very cute and small neighborhoods away from the business and loudness of the city. We tasted great food, including pastries and food from the different markets, including Paella. We also had group dinners in The Dishoom, an Indian Restaurant, Santo Remedio, a Mexican restaurant, and we had our networking night at Drake & Morgan. Lastly, it was interesting to see and walk on the cobblestone streets and see the red telephone booths, people driving on the left side and the royal guards. My London study abroad experience is unforgettable, and one I will cherish forever, and I am incredibly grateful to have experienced it with the help of a GBC Scholarship.