Africa?!

Yes Nana, Africa.

My name is Mark Charamella and I am fortunate enough to have been selected to study abroad this summer in the Pitt in South Africa program. I am from Springfield, Pennsylvania and I live at home with my mom, one of my sisters, and my grandma who I call Nana. In total I have two sisters: Deborah (34) and Deirdre (33). I am an absolute sports fanatic and I grew up playing soccer, basketball, baseball, and golf.  Although, there are other sports that I really enjoy watching and following as well. I have been lucky enough to travel to Barcelona and Valencia in Spain with my soccer team, and Rome and Venice with my mom and cousin. I am extremely excited to continue to broaden my horizon and expand my global reach by heading to Cape Town and Johannesburg.

I have just recently finished up my Sophomore year. I am a Finance and Accounting double major, with a concentration in Political Science. Thus far, I have had a great experience in the business school. Although I have mostly take intro/ entry-level courses, I believe I have learned a lot and am ready to head into the rigor of my finance and accounting curriculum. I am also an active member of the University of Pittsburgh Finance Club and am involved in two different intramural sports teams.

Two summers ago I got the opportunity to do a quick two week internship experience at Pierce-Phelps Inc. in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. In those two weeks, I shadowed different accountants to see what they did on a day-to-day basis. Also, I talked to different business men and women who work at the company about their jobs. This was my first real experience of what a business is like, and the different components and jobs that helped to run it.

The 2016-17 summer I worked in Sea Isle City, NJ. One summer at a pizza shop, and another summer at a place called Kix, which was a bar/restaurant/liquor store. While my jobs at these places were simply either working in the kitchen or stocking shelves, I received truly valuable business experiences from those jobs, and I truly mean it. At both establishments, I was always working up close and personal with the owners and managers. By the end of each job, I started to understand what goes into being in a high position within a company, simply by listening, observing, and learning. Being able to work at these places taught me lessons that will be important for me in my business career.

A main reason why I chose this program is because of reactions that I get that are similar to my Nana’s “Africa?!”. No one in my family or in my group of friends has ever been to this continent, and I am ecstatic to be the first. It is a place that not many people get the opportunity to visit, and is not usually the first place people think of for family vacations. I chose this program because I was not sure when I would ever get the opportunity again to travel to such a unique place. The program also fits perfectly into my academic goals. Over the five weeks, I will be taking 7 credits. Two of the courses that are offered fulfill the requirements that I still needed to get. The final credit is a journaling/blogging credit. That is something that I wanted to do anyway, so it works out very well.

I believe that in order to be a good businessman or woman, you must be well rounded. Most students who are entering the business field are very smart, and their respective universities have prepared them well for what they may expect in their jobs. One thing that not all students are able to say is that they had the opportunity to study abroad. My hope is that as I get more experience and time in another country, I will be able to be more of an asset to whatever company I work for. Not only could I be seen as someone who would be willing to travel for their job, but more importantly, I would hopefully bring a more global approach to the company. I can take what I have learned in my experiences and apply them to my work, helping my company improve and become more universal. I am extremely excited to begin my journey, and I cannot wait to show my family and friends what Africa is all about.

Mark

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