Next Stop: Bolivia

Hi everyone!! My name is David Yesilonis and I will be traveling to Cochabamba, Bolivia over Spring Break 2018 for a Service Learning experience. I am extremely excited to explore another country and hopefully help make an impact with the organization we are partnered with there.

I am originally from Harrisburg, PA, specifically Linglestown, which is 10 minutes outside of the city. My family is quite large, I am one of seven siblings. Even with so many of us, my family is extremely close and everyone gets along with each other well. I had a unique high-school experience as I was cyber-schooled for the entire time. This was extremely advantageous for me as it allowed me to work many different jobs and fund a significant portion of my college experience.

After applying to over 10 different universities, I choose to come to Pitt Business because I fell in love with the city and the administration gave a fantastic presentation. Here at Pitt, I am a Finance & Accounting Major, an Economics Minor, and am pursuing a Certificate in Leadership & Ethics. As a second semester senior, I have had the opportunity to explore many experiences both inside and outside the business school. The main catalyst of these was when I joined Phi Beta Lambda (A professional business organization) in the fall of my sophomore year. Through the connections I made in this organization, I have been able to experience many things around the university. Some of these include planning an international case competition with other PBL members, placing in the Analytics Case Competition sponsored by Dicks Sporting Goods, and spending a week in the UK consulting with an organization in London. These experiences and many others have all helped to shape me into the person I am today and I am sure opportunities will continue to arise.

Outside of the business school, I am a member of the Club Hurling team. Hurling is the national sport of Ireland and is essentially a mixture of baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and hockey. Through this team, I have traveled around the country and played other D1 schools. Last year we placed 4th in the nation! In addition to this, I am an avid Bengals fan. This does not always go over well in Pittsburgh, however, it is a great conversation starter in interviews.

My career plan is ever changing and is influenced by every new experience. However, my ideal starting point has always been the same. Since starting Pitt, I know I wanted to work for a Big Four accounting firm and start in public accounting. I am current on track to begin this first stage in the fall. I interned with Deloitte in their Internal Control & Assurance Advisory practice over the summer. I was able to work with several large public clients in differing capacities and learned an immense amount. However, after a few weeks, I realized that this specific group was not a place I could start my career. Once I realized this, I began to network with people around the company. After talking to several people in the Business Valuation Group, I learned that I had a strong interest in their work and was able to gain a full-time offer in the fall. I will be starting there as a Business Valuation Consultant in September and am excited to embrace this new experience.

After 3-5 years in public accounting, I would love to start my own business. The idea of working for myself and employing people, as opposed to the norm is attractive to me. What is always changing is the form I envision my business taking. Currently I am focusing on different areas in the real estate space, however, that could easily change. Overall, I am driven to go out into the world, create something for myself, and make a tangible impact on those around me.

As a second semester senior, I originally had no plans to complete another study abroad experience. However, after hearing from several of the people who went last year about the impact it had on their lives, I knew that I had to explore the opportunity. I thought about it for several weeks before I made my final decision, but the trip was too compelling for me to pass up.

Our partner in Bolivia is a non-profit organization called CEOLI. They provide educational and labor inclusion services for children with physical and intellectual disabilities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This is an amazing organization that has faced some difficult times over the past few years. Due to government budgetary cuts, their operating budget was slashed and they are looking for other sustainable revenue streams. Pitt Business has made a decade-long commitment to this organization and will be sending a team down to Bolivia every year. We are the second team that is going to be sent and are excited to learn from our experience and hopefully help them facilitate the achievement of their goals.

Our project will mainly focus on selling greet cards that are made by the child and young adults in CEOLI’s care. These cards beautifully handpainted and have been identified as a potentially sustainable source of revenue that could reduce the current deficit. In addition, our team will be exploring other sources of revenue such as a pool facility and a water purification process.

The classroom portion of this Service Learning experience has been extremely interesting. Something that has highly stressed by Dean Murrell is the difference between Service Learning and Volunteerism. It is important that as a group we go into this experience with the right mindset and make sure that we do not just think about how we are going to help this organization. Service Learning focuses on the growth of participates on both sides and requires that the experience is not just a one-way connection.

Through this trip, I hope to be able to develop a further understanding of what it means to work in a global environment. It is important to be able to conduct business in a global context and this trip is a great opportunity to expand these skills. In addition, I believe that this will be an immense learning experience for myself about the culture of Bolivia and how it differs from the United States. Overall, I hope that the team and myself will be able to help provide a tangible impact and set up the future teams with a good platform on which to base their projects.

Spring Break is almost here!!