Why I went: Adventure was a major driver. I was excited to get away from the United States for a while and see what life was like somewhere else.
New friends, new cultures: Once I was there, I was in an apartment complex with students from all over the world. We had Americans and Germans, and then just across the way there were students from Finland, South Africa, Israel and Asia.
I had the chance to bond with people of all these different nationalities. The experience opened my eyes.
A growing interest in Asia: I got to know some Malaysians and Chinese. Asia at the time was a big mystery to me. My grandma still pictures China during the Mao Zedong era, and I had no personal experience to balance that.
Meeting people who lived there helped me understand that we had a lot in common, and that there were opportunities there. It made me pay attention to Asia in the following years.
Moving to China: After college, I worked for AmeriCorps in Minnesota. I was taking business classes on the side, and some of my professors did work in Asia. At the same time, China was always popping up in the news, and I would read about it because I knew people there.
My wife and I began looking into how we could go to Asia and found that teaching English would be the easiest way.
We lived in Qingdao, China for two years. We ate everything the Chinese did. We learned the language and just really immersed ourselves in the experience. I worked for a Chinese biotech company, doing their online advertising. The knowledge of Chinese culture and business is something I’ll always carry with me and hope to use even more in the future.
What I’m doing now: M&T’s Executive Associate (EA) Program is a management development program where they train you to understand all areas of the bank. I work in the Marketing Analytics Department.
I definitely think my international experience helped set me apart from other EA candidates. They look at EAs as change agents, so they’re looking for somebody who has a diversity of experiences, who can approach problems with a fresh thought process.