Oh, the Places You’ll Go (Online)!

Hello everyone! My name John Balafoutas, and I am a rising Junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently pursuing a major in Finance, Accounting, and Business Information Systems, with a minor in Economics and a Certificate in Business Analytics. I am originally from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, which is a small town in South-Central Pennsylvania. At the University of Pittsburgh, I have been involved in several organizations, which include the Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity as the VP of Finance, Residence Life as a Resident Assistant for the PittBusiness Living Learning Community, and the Incline Consulting Group. Outside of the academic realm, my interests include golfing, exploring nature, and tasting different coffee from around the world.

Prior to attending the University of Pittsburgh, I knew I wanted to choose a program in which studying abroad was a top priority. The University of Pittsburgh has allowed me to achieve my goal and has offered tremendous support for studying abroad. This past summer, I had been fortunate enough to travel to South Korea and gain a deeper understanding of the Information Systems industry. While in Korea, several other students and I visited both start-up companies and established organizations that operate on a global scale. At the conclusion of this study abroad program, known as the Plus 3 Program, I made it my priority to travel abroad once again. Unfortunately, these plans had to be slightly modified due to the COVID-19 virus’s emergence in early March.

Nevertheless, I did not let this obstacle stop me from fulfilling my goals of studying and working abroad. During this time of adjustment, a new opportunity presented itself through CAPA, The Global Education Network. CAPA is an organization that works with students to provide an abroad experience through both internship placements and online classes known as the Global Business Institute.

Through additional research and communication with CAPA, I knew that this program was right for me and applied in late May. Soon after, during the middle of June, I was informed of my acceptance and placement. This upcoming summer, I will be working with BIS Oxford Economics, a prominent economic research and consulting firm headquartered in Sydney, Australia. As an intern for BIS Oxford Economics, I will be working to conduct market research about various companies across a wide variety of industries. This research will then be used to help clients solve complex business problems. Although I would prefer to be Australia, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to experience both the Australian culture and working atmosphere.

I chose this program because it allowed me to continue my academic and professional journey, given the current global environment. Rather than canceling all programs, both PittBusiness and CAPA made it a priority to continue to reach out to students and to help further their ambitions. This program’s adaptability is what made it stand out to me and is one of the main reasons I chose to participate. First and foremost, I wanted to be challenged. Having to learn and work remotely provided me with this challenge to better myself as a student and as a business professional.

Throughout this program, I hope to gain an understanding of working and communicating in a remote setting across different cultures and time-zones. Unquestionably, the professional landscape for organizations has been impacted tremendously due to COVID-19. Many organizations are moving to a virtual working environment. With this shift comes a substantial learning curve for many individuals, including myself. I hope to take advantage of this program to jump start my learning and adoption of how to work in a virtual setting. At the conclusion of this program, I hope to have developed a stronger global competency both professionally in a working environment and personally though my advancement in communication skills.

All in all, I am very excited to begin my journey as an intern at BIS Oxford Economics, and I look forward to learning as much as possible about the Australian culture!