AUGUST 4, 2023 — Eighteen UTSA students from across disciplines traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina with the university’s Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement to work as consultants with BYX Ventures, the technological corporate venture capital fund for the Argentina Stock Exchange (BYMA Bolsas y Mercados). This global experience was a key component of Najim Center’s What's In It For Me (WIIFM) Summer Institute.
The Najim Center engages students in innovative project management and skill-based programming and leads faculty, staff and industry partners in enhancing and expanding experiential learning opportunities. Offerings are designed to create an equitable experience for all students to participate.
WIIFM is a term commonly used in marketing, sales and communication to guide professionals to address the needs and desires of their target audiences or customers. By understanding the "What's In It For Me" factor, businesses and communicators can better connect with consumers and effectively convey the benefits of their products, services or ideas. This approach acknowledges the importance of individual self-interest and seeks to provide relevant and compelling reasons for people to take action.
Within this eight-week immersive experience, the UTSA students were able to utilize the WIIFM approach in their projects, as well as in their own personal and professional journeys. They spent the first two weeks of the program exploring their personal and professional needs and desires, embracing the role of the client. Then, they practiced market research, design thinking and cultural competency to better meet the needs of their clients in Argentina. With its rich culture and ripe startup community, Argentina was a prime location for students to gain cross-cultural experience with a diverse startup community.
Once in Argentina, the students worked in project teams with BYX Ventures, which invests in startups focused on new technologies. Each team was given a different start-up to research and analyze. The teams then provided formal recommendations on whether the startups were a smart investment and why.
The students explored creative ways to leverage their varied expertise and backgrounds. They coalesced their ideas into a shared vision—brainstorming, crafting strategies and designing technological solutions to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the projects they were working on.
“The student's willingness to learn from one another and embrace their strengths became the foundation of their success,” said Erica Clark, director of UTSA Student Innovation and LaunchPad campus director.
Their daily interactions became a tapestry of knowledge exchange, cultural enrichment and mutual respect. Through active listening and open communication, they synthesized ideas and forged them into innovative solutions.
“The skills and experiences I have acquired during this journey extend far beyond the boundaries of this opportunity,” shared participant Miranda Ruiz Vazquez, a UTSA global affairs major. “I am confident that the expertise I have developed in strategic thinking, coupled with my ability to adapt and thrive in cross-cultural environments, will be instrumental in shaping my future endeavors.”
She added, “Being bilingual has also been a tremendous asset in this role, enabling me to connect with the founders and investors from different linguistic backgrounds and build meaningful relationships. Through genuine interactions, I have gained invaluable insights into the nuances of various cultures, fostering a deep appreciation for the diversity that enriches the global business landscape.”
While a traditional study abroad experience requires students to pay $1,500 or more to participate, the WIIFM Summer Institute provided the experience at $400 and the UTSA Najim Center offered a scholarship for students who could not afford to pay.
“I enjoyed taking part in this experience with amazing peers and mentors,” said Korielle Trammell, a junior majoring in management on the human resources track. “I enjoyed navigating the culture, forming strong bonds and seeing how each and every individual grew not only personally but professionally as well.”
Students gained cultural competency skills, market research experience, conflict resolution skills and formal presentation experience that they can now use in any job, project or cultural setting in the future. This experience provides the students with added skills, giving them a competitive advantage over peers as they seek out jobs, internships and ultimately build their careers.
Beyond the confines of the project, the students embraced the rich cultural tapestry of Argentina. They immersed themselves in the local traditions, sampled traditional cuisine and explored the mesmerizing landscapes. The experiences outside the project further strengthened their bonds and fostered lifelong friendships.
“Reflection is key in bringing these types of experiences to life,” said Rachael Miller, UTSA senior associate director of experiential learning. “It provides students with space to make sense of their experience, learn from others and gain tangible skills.”
The 18 students who participated in the WIIFM Summer Institute returned to San Antonio with experience in how to work as a cohesive team across diverse academic fields, how to embrace challenges and how to achieve remarkable outcomes.
"Their journey fortified their technical skills and cultivated a profound appreciation for the beauty of cultural diversity and the strength of collective determination," Clark said. “The impact of this experience is sure to resonate for years to come. We call this the WIIFM effect.”
Don’t know where to start in looking for a job or internship? Virtually join in a live job/internship search navigation lab-style workshop. Follow along to bookmark and save opportunities you are interested in applying for.Student Union (SU 2.02.04,) Main Campus
Don’t know where to start in looking for a job or internship? 🔍 Primary platforms utilized during this workshop are Handshake and LinkedIn. Some industry-specific job search boards may be utilized.Student Union (SU 2.02.04,) Main Campus
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
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