Getting Ready for New Horizons

Hello! My name is Sophia Reitz and I am a sophomore here at the University of Pittsburgh. I am a Pittsburgh native, having grown up in Greenfield until 2005 when my parents, my older sister and I moved 45 minutes northeast of the city to a town called Sarver, PA. Pitt was always at the top of my list when choosing where I wanted to attend college. My mother graduated from the University’s Medical School as a Medical Doctor in pediatric medicine and my dad has worked for the University for over a decade. Therefore, due to the geographical location and my familial ties to the university, when I got accepted to the business program, I knew Pitt Business was where I was going to end up. I am currently pursuing a major in supply chain management with a certificate in business analytics as well as the CPLE program. 

My ultimate goal in life is to strive to have an adequate balance between work, family, and budgeting time for myself. For my career, I foremost wish to be in an industry and a position where I can feel the work, I am doing is making a difference, and I am financially stable enough to be able to enjoy life. I do not have a clear 5- or 10-year plan for my career, I instead would rather see where my entry-level jobs take me. Presently, management or tech consulting is my path.  However, a recent endeavor I have been considering is founding a travel agency someday. My current vision is an agency targeted at young adults who want to explore the world but are overwhelmed with where to start. From interacting with my peers at home and Pitt, a common personal goal among them is to travel and experience different cultures. International experiences give the voyager a world perspective and compassion for other people that is difficult to acquire staying in one country for the duration of life. I believe traveling is something all people should experience, hence my interest in starting a travel agency.

This semester I have the privilege to be working on the Trinidad Global Service-Learning project in partnership with Amizade, the DORCAS Women’s Group and Nature Seekers. The primary goal for this project is to increase and maintain ecotourism in the country in a way that is mutually beneficial for locals and tourists. The consulting aspect, as well as the abroad opportunity, is what attracted me to take this class. As mentioned previously, I am looking to go into professional services consulting, and this experience is still very applicable and will provide me with vital, transferable skills such as client interaction and how to adapt to inter-personal conflict. Trinidad itself is a country very rich in culture, and quite different than the westernized, American culture I grew up in. From my research, I have found that Trinidad is very focused on the importance of community which will allow for interesting professional experience in the country as the United States has an individualist culture. The way that personal life comes before professional life in Trinidad is appealing to me as that is how I wish it was in the United States.

As far as personal development, through this program in Trinidad, I will be able to gain a new global perspective. My first international experience was during winter 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Before embarking, I viewed myself as a very aware and introspective person. However, upon arriving in Cape Town I realized I still had a long way to go. I was only in Africa for 10 days, but I knew that I gained so much knowledge and appreciation for the people that lived there. My eyes were also opened to a lot of social, political, and economic issues that I previously was unaware of. It was very interesting to see the stark differences between South Africa and the United States, but it was even more interesting to find small similarities between the two such as the importance of family and bonding over a great meal. My experience in Africa improved my viewpoint on the world and I’m hoping that Trinidad and Tobago will further define that.

Along with fulfilling my functional CPLE credit, this class will also give me an amazing opportunity to truly build something from the ground up through academic growth. I have always loved to learn, and academics have come naturally to me because of that. For as long as I can remember, my favorite type of learning has been a hands-on experience. Having the chance to work with multiple real-world clients will provide me with a much different academic experience than I would have studying in Oakland. Pitt has been a remarkable home the past two years and I have already taken so many wonderful classes with wonderful professors, but I am ready to experience a new kind of learning that will teach me skills that could last a lifetime instead of just a semester.

Additionally, when thinking about my desired career path, I see myself potentially living and working internationally. Working with the DORCAS Women’s Group and Nature Seekers will expose me to cross-cultural communication skills that I will inevitably need working in an international workplace. Similar to Erin Meyer, the author of The Culture Map discussed in class, I did not grow up in a multicultural environment or family. I grew up in a small town with those around me being mostly white, conservative, and Christian. Starting my undergraduate education at Pitt has opened my eyes to a world of new cultures just by interacting with my peers and professors. Furthering this educational experience by observing and learning how different cultures interact with 1) Americans and 2) other cultures will supply me with very valuable knowledge. These experiences can then be transferred during business interactions with international clients such as deal negotiation, persuasion, or even one day managing those that come from a different culture.

Although it is still early in the semester, I have deeply enjoyed interacting with our clients and getting to collaborate with my group and the Pitt Business staff and faculty to establish our scope of work. I feel that I have already learned a significant amount about consulting, cross-cultural communication, and teamwork and I am incredibly excited to get to complete this project with my consulting team.