Written by Nandita Daga
Majors: Business Honors, International Business with Entrepreneurship minor
Company: SMH International Consulting, Shanghai, China
Topics: International Business, Study Abroad, Global Learning
Graham Smith is a junior Business Honors, International Business major, and Entrepreneurship minor who spent his sophomore summer in Shanghai interning at SMH International Consulting. His desire to immerse himself in different cultures began after his freshman year with a Canfield BHP study abroad experience in Argentina, which he calls “transformative” in opening his eyes to the world of international business.
In Argentina, Graham took a course entitled Non-Market Strategies in Emerging Markets, which discussed tactics for successfully conducting business in emerging markets with unpredictability related to institutional voids, governmental regulation, and cultural differences. He was able to use these lessons during his internship in China. Although he faced a harsh communication barrier, his colleagues and peers understood a basic level of English and with patience on his part, he formulated strong friendships and was able to delve into the political and cultural scene.
While in Shanghai, he also took on another challenge: developing a team proposal for The President’s Award for Global Learning. This initiative grants $25,000 to seven teams to implement a project outside the United States in categories of entrepreneurship, social impact, or furthering research. Graham’s interdisciplinary team, spanning business, computer science, and liberal arts, partnered with a public education nonprofit, FUNPRES, and a host school, Colegio Don Bosco, to introduce computational thinking education in El Salvador. While ultimately not selected for the award, Graham finished the experience with a 76-page proposal and invaluable skills in project development, international relations, and interdisciplinary thinking.
Graham will be in Costa Rica this summer as part of a Texas McCombs Social Entrepreneurship Practicum. To secure an internship in Costa Rica following the practicum, he has been reaching out and building relationships with potential employers. It is telling of his charismatic personality that these connections have transformed into friendships. Graham’s mission in life is “to inspire people to be unapologetically themselves,” and it is no surprise that his sincerity and authenticity endear him to people across the world.
His path has not been entirely straightforward, however. He started off in McCombs as a Business Honors and Finance student, then switched to Management, and later Marketing, feeling unsatisfied with all of them. Although International Business is not a common major and is often viewed as impractical for getting a job, Graham invokes a Jim Carrey quote: “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” He points out that on an international campus like UT’s, there are numerous opportunities if you look for them.
Graham immerses himself in his surroundings. For the last year, he’s been going to Ecstatic Dance Austin every Sunday. It’s a place where people come together and free form dance to global music. He also listens to 5 hours of Spotify a day (Grateful Dead and The Beatles are his top artists), enjoys meditating on campus at the James Turrell Skyspace, and likes reading philosophy in his hammock. If interested in hearing more about his own experiences, be sure to reach out – you’ll leave the conversation a little bit more enlightened about the world around you.