From Theory to Practice

By Ana Lia Barragán

Pursuing the Master of International Management degree at Portland State University has given me the opportunity to do an internship at the Business Outreach Program (BOP), allowing me to implement the classroom knowledge I have gained in the program in a real business environment.

The BOP was founded twenty years ago and is dedicated to helping businesses in the community achieve their potential while giving students the opportunity to work with and learn from these companies.

I started my marketing internship in this community-oriented organization in January 2014. The BOP serves clients from diverse industries and with diverse profiles, which has made every project very exciting. However, every new task is also very challenging. As an intern, you are not only reading about a problem in a case study for class, but also discussing real-world problems with clients. The challenge is to identify ways for the businesses to overcome whichever obstacle they may be facing, and this is when the training received in the MIM program becomes an immense resource.

From market research to marketing plans, every skill we have learned during the program is important and necessary. All the pain and hard work we go through is certainly preparing us for the real world. The concepts that I have learned in class have helped me think about problems analytically and find creative solutions to diverse issues. It is rewarding when I see how my education is helping businesses improve their performance.

Moreover, this position has given me a chance to experience what working is all about. I am now completely booked and flooded with emails. Balancing my studies, my work, and my private life has become a challenge. It is clear to me now why there is so much talk about work-life balance. Nevertheless, the experience I am gaining makes it worth it.

Having to work and study at the same time is both challenging and rewarding. You not only get work experience that will make your resume more attractive, but you also get the opportunity to implement the knowledge you have gathered in your studies. It is the best way to make theory tangible.

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