Last year I sold my company WeHostels, the maker of top-rated mobile apps to book hostels and hotels, to Boston-based StudentUniverse, the leading online travel agency for students and youth. As first time entrepreneurs, this was a big accomplishment for us, especially since we started three years earlier with little more than our laptops, a desk at a co-working space and lot of passion. But when I reflect on my whole personal story I realize just how impactful and defining my choice to study abroad was in the course of my career.
I grew up in the agricultural north of Argentina, where I attended university. Before graduating I got a very promising job at a leading energy company and my career seemed off to a great start. But for whatever reason, ever since I was a young kid I had a strong desire to see the world and to experience live outside of my country. Coming from a middle-class family in a currency-devalued country, studying abroad seemed out of my reach. However, after graduating with good grades, a professor advised me to apply for a scholarship to study abroad. I went to Google and started researching and applying online to as many opportunities as I saw fit. One day I got an email from LaSalle Business School, Universitat Ramon Llull, announcing that I was being granted a scholarship to do my masters in Barcelona, Spain. I was beyond excited to finally get to study abroad, and then be able to come back to my country with new knowledge and international experience.
As it turned out, this experience radically changed the course of my career (and my life!). During my time in Europe I took advantage of the opportunity to travel as a backpacker throughout the continent. These travels not only allowed me to see life from different perspectives but it also gave me a couple of ideas to start my own business. As fate would have it, after working some time for PwC Spain, I had the opportunity to move again, this time for an internship in New York, where I began to plan how to get started with my own entrepreneurial venture. Thus my career set off in a completely new direction and there was no going back. A journey was starting that would include traveling and living in yet more countries, raising more than one million dollars from investors as a twenty-something, finding the love of my life and living the dream of being a global entrepreneur.
Stepping out of my comfort zone and proving to myself that I could “survive” on my own in a new country gave me the confidence to aim for even more ambitious goals such as starting my own company. And opening my eyes to higher global perspectives gave me the inspiration to focus my career on longer term goals, aiming to have a positive impact in the world. That’s why it’s special for me to be working now at StudentUniverse with the mission of making global experiences possible for students and young people around the world. I truly believe that traveling when you are young can have a tremendously positive impact on your career and your life. If you are a student or a recent graduate considering the option to study abroad or just take some time to travel the world before focusing on your career, I couldn’t recommend it more. Go, the world is waiting for you!