IDP Marketing Graduate Maria Paula Takes Lessons Learned Back to Brazil

A certificate and work experience in the U.S. led to new opportunities

Maria Paula Bicalho received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), which provided her with a broad knowledge of various business-related subjects. During her undergraduate degree, she became interested in marketing.

Wanting a study-abroad experience that would provide her with more focused instruction in this subject, Maria chose our International Diploma Program (IDP) in Marketing, adding in an internship for an 8-month study and professional experience.

 

Why did you decide to come to Berkeley to study and do an internship?

I thought that the Bay Area would be an interesting place to live—and I was right! There are so many things going on, and I felt like I was at the center of innovation and technology. I also chose IDP because it seemed like the perfect fit for me: It offered focused instruction in marketing and options to stay for four, eight or 12 months, with the chance to work through an internship in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Through IDP’s internship option, I worked at Gracenote as a Product Management Intern in the automotive division. The team managed Gracenote's products that were related to cars, radio, podcasts, music and sports. One of my biggest projects at Gracenote was to expand radio station format mapping, working closely with the Head of Content Architecture and Discovery. I also had the opportunity to take a deep dive into Agile methodology with the software engineering team. Because I worked with product management, I also created product data requirements with Gracenote's product leads.

 

What suprised you and what stood out to you about your IDP classes?

The interaction with fellow students was amazing! Everyone is willing to make friends and to get to know each other. It is also really nice to meet people from all over the world; I was able to learn a lot from them.

The instructors were also open, patient and always willing to help, in addition to being very good teachers. I especially enjoyed the Marketing Public Relations (PR) classes and my instructor Patricia Smith. She was an awesome instructor with a lot of experience and knowledge, and was so open to making sure her students really understood the concepts she was teaching. In her class I learned some important tools, such as how to write a press release and a media advisory. My favorite assignment was the final PR plan, where we chose a company and developed a public relations plan for them; I loved this experience!

There are so many things going on, and I felt like I was at the center of innovation and technology.

Prior to this class, I hadn’t had any instruction in the subject, but I felt like I had the opportunity to really take a deep dive into this field in a relatively short period of time. As I learned more, I realized I had an interest in PR!

Maria visits an exhibit at the San Francisco MOMA

Another cool thing I learned was the concept of neurobranding, from Mr. Duhe's Strategic Brand Management class. It was really interesting to learn that it is possible to study human behavior in a way that deepens our understanding about consumers. We talked about the limitations of a traditional marketing approach and the key neurobranding concepts. I think that it is extremely important to open student's eyes to emerging trends like this so we are not limited to concepts that appear in textbooks and are more knowledgeable and prepared to work.

One of the most unique assignments I completed through IDP was an exercise proposed by our Introduction to Marketing instructor—he wanted to show us the importance of storytelling and gave us the opportunity to practice it.

First, he grouped us into pairs and we listened to a story told by our partner. After that, we had to tell our pair’s story to the whole class as if it were our own. It was fun and extremely useful to shift our perspective in this way.

Our instructor coached us and gave us some tips so we could try it again and make the storytelling even better. We learned how to really capture the attention of our audience. We also got to know each other more and bond. It was an unforgettable experience!

This type of exercise was different from the experiences I had at my home university, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), because in Brazil we use much more traditional ways of learning, like group work and papers. The IDP exercise was a new and different way of learning for me, and it was even more effective because it sparked creativity and a new way of approaching projects and challenges.

 

What types of experiences did you have outside of class?

I liked getting to know San Francisco and the Bay Area. There are a lot of amazing places to visit.


Maria poses for a photo in the hills of Berkeley with a view of the San Francisco Bay Area

It was nice to participate in some UC Berkeley events, as well. I went to a UC Berkeley football game and it was really fun!

I also went on a day trip with some friends to Monterey and Carmel, beachside cities within driving distance of Berkeley. In Monterey, we went to the aquarium, which is beautiful! We had lunch in Carmel, a charming town. On our way back, we experienced the 17-Mile Drive, a route with 21 stops along Pebble Beach. It is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world with golf courses and beautiful landscapes.

There are truly amazing things to see in San Francisco, the Bay Area and the cities nearby.

 

What advice would you give to a student just starting IDP?

Get the most out of this opportunity. Study hard, but also build friendships and enjoy all the Bay Area has to offer in terms of events and places to visit.

IDP was an awesome experience and I recommend it to everyone who is considering studying abroad!

 

What does participating in IDP mean to you?

Academically, I learned much more about marketing than I knew before. I was able to develop interpersonal skills by working constantly with people who are really different from me, which is essential for any career.

I definitely grew a lot during this time. It is important to have the experience of being away from your family and out of your comfort zone. In the future, I’d like to live and study abroad again, this time for a longer period of time.

Academically, I learned much more about marketing than I knew before. I was able to develop interpersonal skills by working constantly with people who are really different from me, which is essential for any career.

The IDP experience will help me achieve my personal and professional goals because of the marketing knowledge I gained, but also because I was able to truly understand the experience of living abroad and what it’s really like. Because of IDP, I feel prepared to handle future challenges and adapt and succeed in new settings.

Maria poses in front of a sign at her job at the FutureBrand company

 

Now that you’ve completed the program, where are you working?

I found a job focusing on market research at a marketing and branding consulting company here in São Paulo called FutureBrand. FutureBrand is part of a global group of agencies with offices around the world and offers services ranging from brand management and strategy to market research and product design. I work with the insights and market research team, so my main job duties are to perform qualitative and quantitative market research for our clients; I get to travel around Brazil to perform this research as part of my work!

Because of IDP, I feel prepared to handle future challenges and adapt and succeed in new settings.

The lessons I learned in IDP—specifically the market research classes— are directly applicable to my work. I also apply the skills I gained through the various group projects, collaborating with different people from countries all around the world. At my job I do a lot of collaboration and I am more prepared and confident navigating these interactions because of my IDP experience.

 

Learn More

Learn more about International Diploma Programs (IDP) business-focused certificates and internship opportunities for students and professionals from around the world.