Building a Career in the Americas: A Venezuelan in Toronto by Way of Babson
Maria Cristina Cruz graduated from Babson College’s Two Year MBA program in 2015. As a student from Venezuela, she understood there would be many challenges to finding a job in the U.S. Through hard work, early preparation, and the right networking approach she was able to land a job in the U.S. Although she did not win the H1B lottery, Burger King Corporation relocated her to Toronto where she is currently Senior Manager of International Supply Chain for their Restaurant Brands International. Maria Cristina shares more about her job search strategy as an international student at Babson College and how these life skills continue to come in handy.
(This is the first blog post for a Grad CCD International Alumni Blog Series on International Student Job Search Strategy)
Tell us a little bit about what you did prior to coming to Babson? After graduating from undergrad with a Business Economics major, I starting working in the Finance department at Procter & Gamble in Venezuela. Caracas housed the headquarters for the Andean division of P&G, so I alternated between regional and local roles. My last assignment prior to the MBA was leading financial analysis and budgeting for the Supply Chain Network in Venezuela.
Why did you decide to do your MBA at Babson College? Both my parents have MBAs and from early on, they insisted on the importance of getting this degree, so I knew it was always part of my plan. I decided to come to Babson because I was deeply drawn to the small class size and the teaching methodology. I wanted to learn how to be a do-er and how to solve problems on a global scale. Even though I ended up going into the corporate world, I do incorporate my learning from Babson every day by being creative and resourceful to solve problems and improve processes.
How did Babson help get you to where you are today? I’m currently on the International Expansion team at Restaurant Brands International (one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, parent of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeye’s), working on bringing Tim Hortons to new global markets. Babson helped me get here in a variety of ways. Firstly, through allowing me to interact with classmates and professors from all over the world. Through them, I learned about the similarities and differences in global consumers. Since Babson, I’ve also benefited from my friends’ willingness to host me in their markets and connect me. For example, for the first year in my role I worked on projects for Burger King in Mexico, and my classmates were an incredible resource to me.
During the actual job search process, I worked closely with the team at CCD. Initially, I would meet with them to discuss which opportunities would best fit my goals. Then we moved on to interview prep and finally to offer negotiations. They’re a great resource and I’m grateful to the team there.
And finally, the Babson Latin American Club was a truly enriching experience. Participating in the Club’s events and the Latin Forum opened my eyes to the opportunities in the region. I’ve come across speakers and attendees of the Forum in my time since leaving Babson and it’s amazing to see the value of the connections made there.
If you were to go back in time and start your MBA all over again, what would you have done differently as a Babson student, if anything? If I would go back, I would invest even more time in ideating and developing my own entrepreneurial ventures. During the Babson MBA you have two key things that foster creativity: free time and a network of people that are as curious and ambitious as you. Once you’re back in the job market, it’s hard to find that same level of time and space to reflect and experiment.
What would you attribute your career success to? I would attribute my success to resilience and determination. I’ve been in tough situations in my careers (for example, learning my boss had left the organization on my first day, not getting my H1-B visa, and getting transferred to another country) but have managed to get through them successfully by continuing to work hard and not letting stressful situations overpower me.
What were some of the most challenging aspects of the job search and how did you deal with them? One of the biggest challenges for me was figuring out what I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure where to even start looking. It’s easy to get caught up with wanting to apply to the Apples and McKinsey’s of the world, but that may not be what actually fits your personal goals or character. I feel that I was much more successful in finding the right fit by talking to people about their experiences at companies (big or small) and deciding based on that.
Once I actually started applying, it was hard to deal with rejection and, even worse, with receiving no answers or feedback at all! Looking back, I feel that a company that doesn’t take the time to even respond to your application is probably not the best place to work anyways, so I’m glad that I was able to weed out those options (even if it hurt my ego at the time).
Any last words of wisdom for our current international graduate students? It is very difficult to deal with the uncertainties brought on by work permits/visas in the US. As part of the job search, it’s a very frustrating experience to feel that you’re automatically disqualified because of your nationality. However, the biggest learning I’ve had since graduating is that the world is a very big place filled with opportunities and we need to be much more open to embracing those. If you’re willing, you may find your dream job in a different zip code.