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Karen McKibbon hero banner

Meet Karen from the USA, studying Business in Australia

UQ people
Published 26 Aug, 2021  ·  3 minute read

Hi, my name is Karen McKibben. I’m from Chicago, USA and I studied a Master of Business, specialising in information systems.

Why did you choose to study in Australia and specifically at UQ?

I chose to study at UQ for a few reasons. I was offered the opportunity to do an exchange program between UQ and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, South America. This was a great choice because I could receive an education from two excellent universities while also getting an international experience in opposite parts of the world. This exchange experience ultimately led me to transfer my studies to UQ full time to complete my degree.

Woman in maroon UQ T-shirt standing in sandstone cloisters

What did you like best about your program and UQ?

The worlds of business and information technology are always changing and evolving. My program was constantly updated to ensure that students are learning the most relevant industry trends and technologies.

I appreciated the many practical projects that helped us develop our skills. For example, in the Advanced Business Data Analytics course, we were tasked with solving a business problem through the use of artificial intelligence and machine-learning methods. It challenged our thinking and approach.

"The best part about UQ is that the university makes sure international students are a part of the culture here. The university hosts many events to help students socialise and experience different cultures."

What did you like most about living in Brisbane?

Brisbane is a beautiful and modern city. My favourite part of Brisbane was the many cultural events and activities. I really enjoyed the Brisbane Festival, which showcases culture, arts and performance across the city. There were a lot of affordable and even free shows to go to.

Aside from the cultural activities, the city is quite easy to figure out and the public transit system is excellent. It’s so easy to get around by bus or train. It’s also very easy to visit surrounding areas like the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast when you want a day at the beach.

Woman standing in light installation
An immersive installation at Brisbane Festival. Image courtesy of Tourism Events Queensland.

Were you involved in any social or extra-curricular activities at UQ?

UQ helped me develop skills and confidence that potential employers value. When I first arrived at UQ, I had a meeting with BEL Careers and Employability to review my resume and do a practice interview. I received some great advice on how to present my answers to interview questions. Additionally, the team worked with me to practise this advice.

I also participated in the UQ Postgraduate Business Association(UQ BSPA). The association hosts social and networking activities for postgraduate students. I attended a networking event where industry participants included PwC Australia, Avanade and other global companies. It was a great opportunity to talk to the industry about what they look for in potential candidates. The association also hosts social events, so it is a great way to network and meet like-minded people.

Group of students meet with BEL professional
UQ supports students to get a head start on their careers.

What advice would you give to students from your home country who are considering UQ?

My path to UQ was unique. My home country is the US. However, I found UQ while I was studying in Colombia. I believe that the international student population at UQ can expose both Americans and Colombians to a lot of opportunities. My experiences in and outside of class at UQ have inspired me to work with people from diverse international cultural backgrounds.

Since UQ is so diverse, I've made friends from all over the world, like Vietnam, China, India and Australia. It was a fun experience to learn about their cultures and even some words in their native languages.

"My advice is don't be shy. It’s really important to make friends who can turn into lifelong connections."

What is life like since you graduated from UQ?

Since I've graduated from UQ in 2018, I gained employment at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBank Chicago) as a senior business systems analyst supporting accounting, financial reporting and human resources teams.

While at UQ, I created a portfolio of work based on the hands-on projects given to us in classes. I believe this portfolio of work was instrumental in finding a job. It demonstrated my skills to employers and set me apart from other applicants.

I use skills that I gained at UQ daily, whether it’s drafting up a business process flow or analysing data. Although I believe in continuous development, the skills and knowledge I gained have served as a strong foundation for my career.

Want to gain a global outlook like Karen? Discover how the UQ Master of Business can further your career.

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