The program enables School of Business students to participate in a four-week, UAB-led study abroad experience in Madrid, Spain, and complete a 10-week paid summer internship with BBVA Compass upon return.
Six students were part of the first program class: Bidisa Chandra, accounting; Katie Crawford, economics; Bhavna Krishna, marketing; Jaina Patel, management; Holly Vaughn, economics; and John Wong, finance and accounting.
“This program expands and deepens the partnership that BBVA Compass already has in place with UAB,” said Alan Register, BBVA Compass Birmingham city president. “The bank has specific areas of employment that we need good quality people for, and we look to the local higher education system to provide that.
“Hopefully they will go overseas, they’ll see a different culture, and they’ll see the way the economy works in that different culture. They can bring back some ideas about best practices that we may not know about here.”
Students said they were drawn to the combination of traveling and gaining real-world corporate experience.
“I really liked the international aspect of the program and the chance of working in a field,” Chandra said.
While in Spain, the group was hosted by local families and took a Spanish-for-business class modeled on a similar class at UAB. They attended weekly lectures in the BBVA Innovation Center and visited businesses to observe the differences between business and cultural practices in the United States and Spain.
“During our time in Madrid, we were able to visit businesses from varying industries and with differing business models,” Crawford said. “Each had interesting presentations and questions about the differences between the United States and Spain.”
At the BBVA Innovation Center, students learned how a global business tailors its products by country and even region to local customers, Wong said.
Now back in the United States, the students spent the summer as interns with BBVA Compass. They have been be exposed to various aspects of the company’s global operations and use their experience to complete a final project detailing their ideas to help the company improve.
“I am hoping to gain useful vocational skills and a chance to learn something beyond the norm of accounting,” Chandra said. “It’s been great to be part of a team. You don’t really understand what it’s like to work in the bank world, the corporate world, until you actually do it. I’m glad I chose the major I did, because I enjoy doing it.”
The idea for a partnership was seeded after a BBVA Compass employee observed during a UAB College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council that the countries attractive to UAB students for study abroad were countries in which BBVA has a presence. The employee worked with the local banking leadership, the BBVA Compass Foundation and the recruiting and training departments to develop the BBVA Compass Global Scholars Internship Program in conjunction with UAB Study Away.
“We hope to bring an international perspective and valuable work experience to these students,” said Ashley Olson, BBVA Compass university recruiter. “And we believe this program could provide a great pipeline of potential BBVA Compass employees.”