Maria Balabanova ’11 came from Russia to study in the United States. She looked at numerous schools, but soon chose Nichols. “I wanted to come to the United States to learn more about American culture—to understand how Americans do business, and how they think. After looking at a number of schools, only Nichols felt safe and like I was at home. Plus, I also really liked the idea of playing tennis while being in college, and Nichols gave me that opportunity.”
Early on in her stay, Balabanova received the encouragement that she needed. “Being surrounded by supportive staff and faculty helped me learn about the culture. Because of the small student to faculty ratio, I was able to take advantage of the time with my professors and advisors. They were always willing to help me develop as a professional and lead me in the right career path,” she says.
Athletics also played a key role in Balabanova’s experience at Nichols. She was a team captain during her senior year, the year the team won the Women’s Tennis Championship.
From an academic perspective, Balabanova found her seminar in international business very relevant. “The class helped me to understand the possibilities of working at an international company,” she says. “Every class included a student presenting an article related to international business. That helped me figure out the industry and type of work I wanted to do.”
Even before she graduated, Balabanova had already gained some international business experience. During one summer break, she interned at Red Bull in Russia, running their promotional events. Her work as a consultant at Everis gave her the experience she needed to move to her current position as an analyst with ISBAN - Grupo Santander, a Fortune 500 company.
Through her experiences at Nichols and in international business, Balabanova has demonstrated her willingness to take risks. “Be open-minded,” she advises. “Accept other cultures. Adapt quickly and network constantly,” she says.