Niall is a graduate of University College Dublin (UCD). He studied International Commerce with Spanish, including a year learning the language in Bilbao, Spain.
I was very lucky to have some friends and university colleagues who were on the programme when I was thinking of applying. During my Erasmus year, I reached out to them in order to gather information and inspiration! I actually started my video application during the last week of my Erasmus in Bilbao. Throughout final year I kept in contact with these friends who were able to give sound advice when I was going through the interview process.
I am in my final year of the programme currently based in Panama, working in the Central America region (Costa Rica, Guatemala). My first 2 years of the programme were spent living in Santiago, Chile.
Yes – I speak Spanish which is very much needed in all Spanish speaking Latin American countries. I graduated with a good university level, however now speak fluently with working proficiency.
Creativity and leadership are very important. As a Brand Ambassador you regularly lead various projects end to end. This takes a great deal of idea creation, finding opportunities and breaking down barriers. As well as this, we are involved in other areas of the business working across numerous teams (sales, marketing, business insights), where the characteristics of a good team player come in. I believe that a positive mentality and strong people skills can go a long way in the role.
The people you meet and the places you see – hands down! We are extremely fortunate that the programme leads us to amazing countries and draws us to incredible people. I never would have thought that just a few weeks after graduating, I would be based in South America. Now I can happily say that my network and friend groups are truly global.
Language barrier and culture shock are always tough. Thankfully I arrived to South America with a decent level of Spanish. I did however have to adapt to the drastic change in the professional environment as well as the cultural differences that each country possesses.
Finding your feet in the new role, reporting to teams in two different continents can be demanding. You work with a local team based in market, while keeping everyone in the loop back in the office in Dublin. Good time management and keeping organised with report deadlines are important.
Finally, achieving a good work-life balance was a challenge at the start. You want to make a mark in the new role and work hard, however it is also important to keep healthy, rest well and exercise. I quickly found a nice routine of meeting friends for coffee or lunch during my busy days and escaping to the beach or the mountains on weekends in order to disconnect. This resulted in my time spent working being much more proactive as I had to manage my timetable and productivity levels. These are effective habits that I plan to take with me during my career.
I have been very lucky with my two market placements. In Chile I had a strong team of mentors around me. We ran amazing events, worked extremely well with our PR and digital agencies and activated the brand in innovative ways with our clients. My managers involved me in everything, allowing me to gain transferable skills within marketing. I was also given the freedom to truly be the face of the brand at various events and media activities.
Here in Panama the team is much smaller, and I am travelling between 3 countries. I am focussing on bringing my skills learnt in Chile in order to execute the basics, brilliantly.
The programme gives a great platform for growth and success. However, each graduate tends to find their own positives and accelerate in specific areas. I really enjoyed being involved in the commercial conversations and strategic planning in Chile, which perhaps landed me the role I love now in Panama, working with teams across 3 countries, each with distinct brand plans and cultures.
Public speaking, project management, event planning, negotiations, digital marketing to name a few. Other soft skills such as teamwork, communication, decision making and problem solving come with the role.
I am quite active, I am regularly playing football with friends, surfing, trekking, skiing (in Chile!). Recently I ran the Panama City half marathon. I also love travelling. My passport is quickly filling up with stamps from various South American countries.
Wow – there has been so many. I vividly remember within a few days upon arrival to Santiago, being handed a microphone on stage in front of hundreds of people. A daunting yet amazing experience that takes you right out of your comfort zone – a taster of what was to come!
Running events for St. Patricks Day and speaking on CNN Chile are also proud memories.
Now in Central America, I am enjoying regular travel and being able to share my ideas, advice and experience with the various local teams.
Be yourself and show off your personality. Enjoy the process – create a great video showing your hobbies and life experiences. Have fun during the interview days, presenting on something you are passionate about and that will be engaging. Make friends with the other applicants – you never know, you could be sent to market together!!