University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First Generation Abroad: France

February 23rd, 2018

My name is Juan Martin. I am a proud Latino and I am the first in my family to go to college. I wanted to show my family what a college education, what a student from the Tippie College of Business, has the abilities to do: at home and abroad. I spent the entirety of my summer interning for a French financial institution in the heart of Paris. This was also the first time I had ever been outside of the country and the first time I could truly learn and immerse myself into another country’s culture.

I had no idea what I was to expect from the French culture and the different business practices I was going to encounter while in Paris. I was worried that I would not be able to adjust to the culture and perform adequately within a French firm. As time passed I realized that this would not be an issue. I was surprised with the openness of the culture and the warm welcoming I received from my coworkers. Every day I roamed the city, it appeared I’d learn something new. I was lucky enough to be able to interact with a variety of individuals with different ethnicities and backgrounds and learn how to effectively integrate myself into the French culture. This opportunity surpassed all of my expectations and allowed me to grow as both an individual and a professional.

This internship was the ideal opportunity to broaden my network and kickstart my international career. My parents were very hesitant to let me leave because there was a lot of uncertainty and financial risks behind my decision to intern in Paris. I explained the benefits behind the opportunity and promised them I’d always keep in touch, via skype, to ease their stress. I now provide a surplus of real-world experience and international insight in my class discussions. I learned about patience and the art of conversation that occurs within a global institution. I learned about the global mindset it takes to be successful while abroad and how to leverage that knowledge in class. Most importantly I learned how difficult it can be being a first generation and knowing that failure isn’t an option. Everything I did in my internship had a purpose and was appreciated within the firm. I gained an invaluable amount of knowledge that I would have never known about thanks to this opportunity. I miss Paris every day. The city of Paris now feels like a second home to me and I am certain that, one day, I will return.

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