The ESSEC International Business Education Alliance: Where One Finds Courage to Explore The World

Hear from Katherinne Zuñiga about how ESSEC’s International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) program—a program that allowed her to study at ESSEC Business School, the University of Mannheim in Germany, Fundaçao Getulio Vargas in Brazil, and University of South Carolina in the USA—has shaped her perspectives and given her the courage to chase her dreams.

Meet Katherinne Zuñiga:

- A French national who was drawn to the IBEA program because it allowed her  study, work and live in different countries
- Her IBEA experience has given her the courage to move out of her comfort zone
- She views the IBEA program as a lifestyle

Standing at the cusp of graduation, fourth-year Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student, Katherinne Zuñiga is wrapping up her ESSEC Business School education with a project management internship at telemedicine start-up, Doctor Anywhere in Athens. 

It’s a move that has taken her far out of her comfort zone—but one that she found the inspiration and courage to make thanks to the International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) program.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are your goals for the future?

I’m passionate about entertainment, traveling, culture, and fashion and I would say that my goals are to be working in something that has a social impact. I want to have a dynamic role, one that oversees different projects and requires my creativity, organization, and time management skills.

Why did you join the IBEA track instead of simply going on an exchange program?

I wanted the opportunity to study, work, and live in different countries. I felt that the IBEA program was a chance to experience a little of everything that ESSEC offers—like apprenticeships, exchange programs, double degrees, and more.

For example, like an apprenticeship, I would have the chance to work on projects with different companies each semester, and like a double-degree, I would be considered a graduate from both ESSEC and the IBEA program. Finally, studying in four different universities would be similar to doing multiple exchange programs.

COVID-19 hit when your IBEA experience started. How did it affect your experience? 

It seemed devastating at first, but good things came out of it: The cohort bonded virtually through weekly team meetings for projects. We also learned to work within different time zones—sometimes with people from up to four different time zones in a group.

Overall, it made us appreciate the opportunities we had to live abroad in the next few semesters and once we were all reunited in Singapore, we didn’t waste any time—everyone wanted to make the most of what we had.

So what are your best memories?

My cohort started doing running dinners when we were in Germany, and kept it up all the way until we were in Brazil. For each running dinner, we would be paired with another IBEA track student that we didn’t know. Each pair would need to create a dish—whether an appetizer, main dish or dessert—and bring their contribution to share with another pair of students. I loved this as it was something that really helped us get to know each other better. 

Looking back now, has the IBEA program lived up to your expectations?

It has enabled me to grow as a person. I’ve found that it’s possible to feel at home in countries that I would never have imagined living in and I’ve gotten to know some of the most unique people. I’ve also learned to enjoy being outside of my comfort zone and become more open-minded. 

This has prepared me for my new adventure in Greece, and for the steps I will take after that. To me, the IBEA program is a lifestyle. I cannot see myself living a “normal” life anymore, and I am motivated to develop an even more international profile now.

Any advice for future IBEA students?

Try to learn Portuguese or German because knowing the basics of either language will make you enjoy your IBEA journey even more. Start living the IBEA experience from day one by getting to know your IBEA classmates. Get to know the city you are in and don’t leave plans for later!

For more information about the program, please visit: https://www.essec.edu/en/program/global-bba/global-bba-international/

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