When Maria Balabanova, a native of Russia, came to the United States to study, she looked at numerous schools but ultimately chose Nichols. “I wanted to come to the United States to learn more about the 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. During her senior year, the tennis team won the Women’s Tennis Championship. As a team captain, she led her team to victory.
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 in 2011, 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.
What is the key to succeeding in international business? “Follow new companies and business trends and don’t ignore startup companies as an option,” she says. “It can be risky but rewarding at the same time,” she says. Balabanova’s career has been an example of this. “In my case, taking a job at a foreign, start-up company led me to an amazing position working as an Analyst at Grupo Santander.”
Through her experiences at Nichols and international business, Balabanova has clearly demonstrated her willingness to take risks. The key? “Be open-minded. Accept other cultures. Adapt quickly and network constantly,” she says.