Experiences in BIG: Maria Elisa Arce

“I thought I couldn’t do it,” Maria admitted. “Before I joined BIG, I didn’t understand how I could actually do it.” To a perspective applicant, Barton International Group often seems quite intimidating. For Maria, she was sure that she did not have adequate experience or understanding of the business world to perform successfully in BIG’s professional setting. However, once she joined Barton International Group, Maria quickly learned that, even with her lack of experience, everyone in the group was there to help her gain the knowledge and experience that she needed.  

Being an international student, Maria was unable to work outside of campus – making BIG the perfect opportunity to “get the same experience” as the students who were able to work off campus. She first discovered the group in her junior year, and proceeded to join in the fall of that same year. Prior to this discovery, she hadn’t found any other organization that would allow her to work with actual companies while still being a student, and thought BIG would be “a great experience” and “a great part of [her] resume.” Although she joined late into her college career, everyone was welcoming and helped her to become acclimated to the new environment.  

Maria has spent her time in Barton International Group in the Business Development Department, where she contacts potential clients, attends meetings with company executives, and frequents networking events. She is currently working on a project with NIAR, which has so far given her “the experience of working in a fast paced environment”, but also allowed her to learn “how long it takes to understand a company.” Through her work with market research on this project, she told me that it is really “not as easy as everyone thinks.”

Like many other members of BIG, Maria wasn’t an incredibly confident person prior to joining the organization. Moreover, she initially felt isolated as a result of being the only international student of the group. However, through her work within the group as well as the connections she made during her years in Barton International Group, Maria gained “the confidence [she] needed to launch her career.” “Nothing is too big for me now,” she told me. “I’m ready for a big career.”  

After she graduates, Maria will return to her home in Bolivia for a period of time before beginning to search for a job – preferably one where she can do market research or manage a company’s social media. However, this should be relatively simple considering the skills and confidence she learned from being in Barton International Group.  

When the interview ended, I asked Maria if she had any final comments to make. She sat back and thought for a moment before grinning and enthusiastically blurting out “join BIG!” – one final promotion for the place that molded her into the person she is now.

Written by Zaena Helm