To Trinidad And Beyond

Hello! My name is Alex Falzone and I am a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. I am majoring in supply chain management and marketing, while also participating in the Certificate Program in Leadership and Ethics (CPLE). Prior to my junior year of high school, I had not even considered going to college for business. However, I ended up in an introduction to business class because of a scheduling issue. This issue ended up being the best problem to ever happen to me. It helped me to discover my true passion and now looking back, I could not imagine pursuing any other career path. The overall concept of business strategy fascinates me. This summer, I will be participating in a management internship with a graphic design and printing company back near my hometown. I am really excited to be able to apply everything I have learned about business practices so far and to gain even more hands-on leadership experience. My dream job would be working in either the marketing or operations department for a cosmetic company because makeup is something that I personally take a great deal of interest in. However, I never want to restrict myself so I cannot wait to see where my career path ends up taking me.

I am from a small Pennsylvania town called Tunkhannock, which is about thirty minutes away from Scranton, Pennsylvania, so I often just tell people I’m from the home of The Office. This inevitably leads to a conversation about this renowned television show. Coming from a small town, I have always wanted to travel to around the world, but up until this point I have not had any opportunities to do so, so I am very excited to be traveling to Trinidad this spring break as part of the Global Service-Learning (GSL) study abroad program here at Pitt Business! Hopefully this trip is just the beginning of a lifetime of traveling and exploration to feed my endless cultural curiosity.

Last semester, Hillary, a faculty member for the program, came into my CPLE class to speak about the GSL Trinidad program. The concept of traveling to such a unique destination to partake in a service-learning project piqued my interest, so I began to speak with participants from last year’s trip and I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with Hillary to gain additional information. After learning more about the uniqueness of this trip, I was eager to apply – and even more thrilled when I was accepted!

 On campus, I am involved in Women in Business, Supply Chain Management Club, and American Marketing Association. For Women in Business, I am the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, which means I plan all of the recruitment and social events for the club. I am also the Brand Manager of Supply Chain Management Club, meaning I manage the club’s overall branding, social media, and merchandise. Additionally, I work at a small grocery store on campus in which I interact with coworkers and customers while delivering the best work ethic and results each day. Before coming to Pitt, I was very shy and typically stayed to myself. However, my engagement with these various activities has really helped me to come out of my shell and now I truly love interacting with people from various backgrounds and hearing their life stories. This is one of my main motivations for participating in the Global Service Learning program. Not only do I get to communicate with and learn from my peers in my group every day, but I will get to connect personally with local Trini citizens while in-country. I am really looking forward to speaking with them about their life experiences that have helped to shape who they are now in order to gain understanding and trust with them.

For this Global Service-Learning project, my group will be working with the Trini organizations, the DORCAS Women’s Group and Nature Seekers, as well as communicating with our client liaison, Amizade. Both organizations that we will be partnering with focus their efforts and resources on ecotourism. More specifically, the DORCAS Women’s Group is a nonprofit that focuses on engaging community members along with attracting tourists to help stimulate their local economy. Nature Seekers, which is the focal organization of our project, offers volunteering opportunities to help clean the beaches and such, tours, and jewelry under the brand name “Turtle Warriors”. Each of these community-based organizations is located very rurally, therefore there are great challenges posed to their success, but Pitt Business’ partnership with them has already helped to create great progress and I am so thankful to get to be a part of this ten-year initiative.  

The greatest focus for this project is on consulting. Specifically, we will be consulting with these organizations to create a marketing and distribution plan for Nature Seekers and exploring the plausibility of a partnership between the DORCAS Women’s Group and Nature Seekers. The CPLE has also allowed me to gain a great amount of consulting knowledge over the past year with projects for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, the Pitt Police, and the University Store. I am also currently working on a consulting project with Thread International for my CPLE service-learning class. These consulting projects have thoroughly developed my transferrable skills such as communication, both written and verbal, teamwork, leadership, and strategy, but there is always room for growth. A professional goal of mine for this specific project with DORCAS and Nature Seekers is to expand upon these transferrable skills, such that I learn how to adapt them in an international/situational context. All of my projects thus far have been for American clients, so I have only had to shift my skillset to match that of the clients’ wishes slightly. However, this GSL project will teach me how culture impacts all of the transferrable skills listed above, among others, and how I can better work to recognize and adapt to these differences, especially in a consulting context.

Overall, I am thrilled to increase my global competency over the duration of this project in order to become a more well-rounded person in my day-to-day life. As I mentioned, there is always room for growth, and I am always trying to be the best me I can be, so this experience is so valuable to me and I am eternally grateful for this opportunity.

Until next time!