For all of my adult life, I’ve been passionate about travel, language and culture. As my undergraduate degree program came to an end, I made a bold decision to travel and see more of the world, instead of settling into a conventional 9-to-5 desk job that would boost a career path I was not certain I even wanted at the time. I began researching ways to achieve this goal that were cost-effective and would also provide me with priceless opportunities to learn about other cultures and meet new, diverse people.
I already had some knowledge of German and French languages and culture but wanted to add a level of excitement and difficulty. So, what better place to embark on this endeavor than in Germany? At the time, I rationalized that individuals who speak German, one of the major business languages in the EU, would have better job prospects and have the important cultural background when working with their business counterparts at an international company. In August of 2014, I ventured to Germany where I spent the better part of three years studying at the University of Hamburg and graduated in 2017 with my master’s degree.
Matthew in Front of the Hamburg Canals
Location of the University of Hamburg
Roman Amphitheater in Saintes, France
Interestingly, what I discovered when I lived in Germany was that I was the only international student in most of my graduate classes. But, I eventually met other international students on campus. The dialogue and networking with German students as well as the other international students helped give me a true global perspective. I learned about how my friends and colleagues grew up, the challenges they faced and are still facing, the successes each of them have had, and about where they wanted to go in life. Not only was I gaining a global perspective but also sharing my own perspective.
Outside Hanover Town Hall
Student Excursion to Hedeby (Former Viking Village)
Outside Hamburg Town Hall
After gaining admission to the Belk College of Business, I found that the opportunity I had in Germany to learn more about other cultures existed at UNC Charlotte as well, if not to a greater extent. In many of the MBA classes, one has the opportunity to work with students and be taught by professors from all over the world. In addition to meeting and networking with students in class, the Belk College provides incredible avenues and platforms to network with like-minded people in diverse, engaging settings. Below is a photo from the Fall 2019 MBA mixer at Topgolf, which allowed a diverse group of MBA students at all levels in the program to come together, network and to simply have fun.
MBA Ambassador, Matthew Hillman (far right), with MBA classmates at Topgolf mixer
There is an MBA mixer each semester, usually at great local venues such as a Charlotte Knights baseball game, Topgolf or others where MBA students can come together, have a drink, eat some food and learn about where their fellow students are from and where they’re going. Completing your Belk College MBA is not only a great way to network with people from all around the world, but also form lasting friendships in both casual and academic atmospheres.