Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Gika Okonji

Riding Camels in the UAE

Study Abroad Student Profile

Name:
Gika Okonji    

Majors:
Finance and Marketing, minor in International Business

Engagement on campus:
President of UC African Student Association (UCASA), ROAR Guide, Lindner Ambassador, Darwin T. Turner Scholar, KBS Scholar, CWEST Honorary, Sigma Phi Honorary

Coop Placements:
Marathon Petroleum Company – Finance & Sales Operations Intern/ Co-op; Ernst & Young (EY) – Core Business Services Intern/ Co-op; Macy’s Inc. – Real Estate Finance; Google – Small-to-Midsized Business Consumer Sales; Clorox– Sales Analyst

Graduation year:
Spring 2017

Location and type of program where you studied abroad:

  • Peru ( Lima & Cusco): Serve Beyond Cincinnati Service Program
  • Semester Exchange in Europe (France & Slovenia): Took international marketing and finance courses in business schools while travelling to 10 countries and 21 cities.
  • Dominican Republic : Serve Beyond Cincinnati Service Program
  • United Arab Emirate (Dubai/ Abu Dhabi): Faculty-led study abroad program through Lindner
  • Ethiopia (Addis Ababa & Gondar): Serve program through the UC African Student Association (UCASA)

Why did you chose your program?
I choose my programs based on location, in which I don’t have many stipulations. I believe there’s so much to grow if you go anywhere outside of your home country. Between language barriers, and differences in social norms, regardless if you’re taking classes in that country or serving in a developing community, you will be surprised how much personal growth you can achieve from just shifting yourself out of your comfort zone. Just stay curious and optimistic.

How did you afford an international experience?
You just have to hustle hard and share your vision and aspiration with different potential external and internal donors. You’d be surprise how many people will assist in funding your vision.  Additionally, apply to as many grants and scholarship as possible within the university, and outside of the university.  I usually pick up one or two part time jobs during the semester to help fund my trip.   Departments such as Lindner International and University Honors are great resources!

Prior to travel how did you prepare yourself to experience a new culture?
My best advance will be to leave all you preconceived notions, stereotypes, assumptions and expectations at you departure gate in CVG airport. Regardless of how much you research, you will always be surprised when you arrive. But the key is to try not to compare, instead take it in at face value, with respect for their culture. You did not spend all this time and money to go to the other side of the world if you could have gotten this experience from Googling it – so just take it all in and cherish the moment.

What professional skills did you gain while abroad?
Knowing how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds is so important! For example, knowing the respectful customs when working with people from Middle Eastern on North Asian countries in a professional environment. I learned a great deal of cross culturally professional etiquette while taking Cross Cultural courses in France and Slovenia.

How has study abroad influenced you career path?
I’m now confident that I want to work in a multi-national company that allows global flexibility for relocation. I’d like my first job out of college to be a temporary assignment in a different country for maybe a year or two. I’m strongly considering South America or Southeast Asia. 

In your opinion, why should every student study abroad?
Every student should study abroad because it gives you a chance to personally grow in unconventional ways. You get a chance to push your limits of comfort to better understand who you are as an individual.