Alumni Spotlight: Brandon Hoffman

Brandon Hoffman, age 26, is from Anaheim, CA and is going to business school for his MBA at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys writing/performing R&B and soul music, skydiving, and reading philosophy.

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Next Step Connections in China?

Brandon at the Great Wall

Brandon: My situation was non-traditional. I was a Pre-MBA Fellow of MBADiversity Organization. Its mission is to provide minority students the opportunity to experience a culture outside of the US in a professional capacity and in that of a community volunteer. NextStep was affiliated with my organization and all of our fellows went through Next Step to provide us with the logistics of staying in Shanghai, the volunteer activity in a migrant-village, and the internship assignments with local business owners. I chose NextStep because they were able to facilitate all of our needs and had a great reputation.

What made this internship experience unique and special?

Brandon: This was my first time outside of the United States. So that in itself, made this a very special experience. Learning about the business environment and customs was very intriguing and are greatly different than those in America.

Getting a chance to learn about the Shanghai market and what type of opportunities exist, given its rapid urbanization and growing consumerism. I certainly see myself being more open minded to working or starting a business venture that is linked with China.

Brandon and children

How has this experience impacted your future?

It was humbling to learn about the culture and lifestyle, especially of those who are living in poverty and in those migrant-villages. For instance, we taught English to a small class of children in the village, and these children revealed the grand dreams that they have - wanting to be an astronaut, a doctor, or a teacher. Yet, these children do not have access to any basic learning, let alone a full public education, and because of this they stand little chance of achieving such dreams. It is heartbreaking, and made me realize that I must not take anything for granted, especially education, which further propelled my decision to return to graduate school.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in China?

It is a life changing experience. I would recommend that you take yourself out of your comfort zone and "just go!" However, make sure that you have the right resources lined up to make your travels and stay a safe and pleasant one. Do not go it alone.