Learning Gone Viral- My Experience as a Haller Global Honors Scholar

Hello everyone! My name is Saloni Sharma, and I am an incoming freshman to the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration. I am from Lawrence Township, New Jersey, a mid-sized suburb in between Trenton and Princeton. I recently graduated from Lawrence High School with honors, and I am excited to continue my academic journey at Pitt. In high school, I participated in many activities- I was captain of my Varsity Debate Team, an active member of my school’s DECA chapter, and an editor of The Lawrencian, my school newspaper. Outside of the classroom, my hobbies include learning languages, curating playlists on Spotify, and playing Subway Surfers.

My interest in business began in my freshman year of high school, where I took a half-semester class called “Principles of Economics” to fulfill a mandatory state requirement. What I had initially thought was going to be just another class I would have to take to graduate turned out to be one of my favorites in the whole year, and it actually piqued my interest in marketing and economics. After I had taken the class, I realized that there was actually a lot more to a career in business than the 9-to-5 office cubicle culture I had associated with it from watching sitcoms on TV, and I decided to let go of my previously held misgivings about business studies and explore more into the subject. Throughout my high school career, I took many additional business related courses, including Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Macro and Microeconomics, Statistics, and Calculus. After school, I involved myself in DECA, an organization dedicated towards business education through competitions and the development of marketing plans. I competed for three years as a member of the organization at the Regional and State levels. Last year, after earning 2nd place at the New Jersey State Conference for a marketing development plan I had formulated with a partner, I was honored with the opportunity to represent my state at the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Due to my experience with DECA, and the many business classes I took in school, I decided to continue to pursue my interests and interacted with a variety of businesses, viewing their operations from both an internal and external perspective. While meeting with local business leaders both in my community and the greater New Jersey area, I learned more about specific marketing problems affecting both corporations and small businesses and used this information to help establishments in my area develop a stronger presence and reputation with their intended markets. Being able to help others with their business needs made me even more passionate about my pursuits in business, and I decided that for my future career, I would love to go forward with my studies to better be able to serve the communities around me.

At the University of Pittsburgh, I hope to continue my academic career by earning a degree in Global Management, with possible minors in Spanish and Chinese due to my passion for learning languages. Furthermore, I would like to collaborate with faculty and my peers in business development by involving myself in organizations such as the American Marketing Association and the Women in Business organization. As the world market becomes increasingly more collaborative, I would also like to take advantage of the comprehensive international programs offered at the University and study abroad, honing my language skills and gaining real life experience through a business internship. I plan to take advantage of the many opportunities available to me as a student at Pittsburgh, and continue to explore the many fields of business through academic classes and a service learning based approach to education.

When I first heard about the Haller Global Honors Fellowship, a program that would take several precollege students to Dublin, Ireland, to meet with business executives and gain firsthand experience at working with an international corporation, I grew ecstatic. I thought the program was the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about the impacts of globalization and learn and observe how businesses use collaborative cross-cultural relations to achieve their goals. By going to Ireland, I would not only learn more about international business but also experience the diverse Irish culture firsthand, further enabling me to expand my perspective on global relations through interactions with those who have not grown up in the same American environment I have.

Unfortunately, with the current ongoing pandemic, the expedition to Ireland was cancelled, and the program was held remotely. Despite this major setback, I was surprised at how well the faculty and the other scholars within the program adjusted to the change. From meetings with company executives to lectures given by Pitt faculty to individual projects conducted with other students, everything was conducted through Microsoft Teams and Zoom quite efficiently. For this, I have to thank the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh involved with the program, as well as the heads of Kendlebell Kimmage, the Dublin-based service company the Haller Scholars are collaborating with, for such a seamless transition to an online workplace.

Over the next two weeks, I am excited to work as a consultant for the Irish call service company Kendlebell Kimmage on developing solutions to help expand their business to the global market while maintaining their quality of service. By talking with the heads of the company to learn how to best serve their needs, I, along with my peers, will work to develop a strategic business expansion plan to determine how to fit their goals into an expanding global market. Through this program, I cannot wait to begin research about the Irish economy and learn how to develop international business plans! The pandemic has provided also us a unique opportunity as well, in that I am learning how to utilize online operating systems such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to conduct meetings and collaborate remotely. In this way, I can better prepare myself to adapt the business model to the technologies of the future.

I am so grateful for this unique global opportunity, and so thankful for those who worked hard to make this experience happen despite the world being in the middle of a pandemic. I look forward to my next four years at Pittsburgh!