Study Abroad Alumni Profile: Roberto Paniagua

Roberto Paniagua, originally from Westchester, IL, graduated from the University of Iowa in 2011 with a dual degree in economics and political science. While at the UI, Roberto studied abroad in not only Lyon, France, but on the India Winterim program as well. Currently, he is a Business and Industrial Markets Account Manager for Google in Chicago, IL. Read on for a Q-and-A with Roberto to learn about how he applies the skills he learned abroad to his life today.


Hawkeyes in Cambodia!

What lessons did you learn from your study abroad experience at Iowa?

Studying abroad taught me 3 main lessons:

1st person is greater than 3rd person. Experiencing hundreds of years of history and culture first hand doesn’t come close to reading from a book or watching a video. If you have the opportunity to live through an experience firsthand, you’ll gain a better understanding and appreciation for the world.

Diversity is everywhere. Coming back from studying abroad helped me appreciate the diversity around me. You can connect with people at a different level and gain a better understanding of people different than yourself.   

Talk less. Listen more. You have so much to learn from the people you meet. Listen to what they have to say, you can hear yourself later.

How did study abroad complement your major and education at the UI?

Study abroad programs lean more towards providing first-hand experiences as a vehicle for learning instead of lectures and tests. They were a great balance during my undergraduate experience. Additionally, my professors were awesome at making sure my abroad experiences would fit perfectly into my 4-year plan.

Can you tell us a little about your path from graduation to your current job?

Uncertain. That’s the best way to describe it. I set my goal for working at Google and took every opportunity that would take me closer to that goal. After graduating from Iowa, I took a gamble and waited for the right job offer before I was ready to say yes.

How has your international experience benefitted you in your current job?

At Google, I work with people from all over the world. Meeting with others and being able to share common experiences helps build a relationship with the people that you do business with.

Do you have any advice for future students regarding study abroad?

I’ll give you 4 tips.

1.        Don’t spend time doing things you can do at home.

2.        Live outside your boundaries.

3.        Pack light.

4.        Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

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