Fellowship Recap with Viktória Keresztes, and Norbert Szabó, HF-Quinnipiac Scholarship Recipients
Hungary Foundation is a proud supporter of the Central European American Business Leaders Scholarship Program at Quinnipiac University. The objective of this program is to provide the best of Hungary’s future business leaders with an opportunity to earn an American MBA, along with substantive exposure to the American customer-first approach to business.
This unique scholarship enables students from Hungary to come to the U.S. to gain work experience and earn a master’s degree on Quinnipiac’s beautiful Connecticut campus. Nestled in the heart of New England, two hours from Boston and 90 minutes from New York City, Quinnipiac offers a unique opportunity for international students to learn about American business through a distinctly hands-on approach.
In 2019, Quinnipiac University welcomed the two newest participants in the Hungarian American Business Leaders Scholarship Program, Viktória Keresztes, and Norbert Szabó. Viktória holds a B.A. in international relations from Corvinus University of Budapest, while Norbert has a B.A. in finance from Babes Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca. In June 2020 the students successfully completed their MBAs at our partner organization, Quinnipiac University.
Enjoy a summary of the program from each of the scholars, through their eyes and experiences.
It has been more than half a year, since I moved back to Hungary after spending an amazing year on the other side of the world, in the United States. It was definitely one of the toughest decisions to make, and not a day goes by where I do not think and do not talk about the time I spent there.
Having lived a whole year in the US gave me a lot professionally. First, attending an American university and living the student life in the States was definitely a unique experience. University education in the US is different in various aspects from those practices that I had experienced during my undergrad studies in Hungary.
In my view, the education was more practice-oriented overall, as classes were regularly in smaller groups, discussions were encouraged more, and there was greater chance to exchange views and to get to know both the professors’ and the classmates’ thoughts on the given topics. – Viktória Keresztes
In some classes, we had ongoing projects throughout the entire semester where we worked in teams with professional companies. The most memorable project for me was the one we had with a local company that assists mainly individuals with disabilities who face barriers in some areas of life. They provide a broad array of programs and help them access secure employment and housing. This project gave me the chance to get to know amazing people who spend their lives helping others and also to better understand how an organization with such a mission operates. During this year I also had the opportunity to gain work experience, as I interned at a high-tech company, ASML. I had no previous knowledge in this industry, so not only did I have to face a completely new company culture, but I also needed to learn how to work with engineers. I feel like the experience I gained at ASML has contributed a great deal to my career by allowing me to develop new skills and insight into new work environments.
Personally, this adventure has brought many amazing people into my life, who I believe will remain friends for a lifetime. I truly believe these friendships have added a lot to my personality. The American people who I got to know all helped me see and understand their culture better. Endless conversations, random road trips, weekends by the ocean, strolling around in New York City: these are all the heart-warming memories that have made these connections very strong. Sometimes it is still hard to believe that I had the chance to have a hot dog in Central Park, to see Lion King on Broadway, or even to watch a Knicks game in Madison Square Garden.
Due to having lived there, I feel I have a better understanding of current American politics and I also feel I can better grasp the difference between how countries in Europe and the United States handle the global pandemic. Taking advantage of modern communication, I regularly keep in contact with the people I got close with and I am also planning to visit one of my dearest friends at his wedding this summer in Vermont. I hope we will stay close for a very long time with these friends, and they will also have the chance to visit me in Hungary one day.
The people I met taught me a lot, exposed me to a culture very different from the one I used to know, and all these experiences broadened my perspective and made me more open to the world. I am and will be forever grateful for this wonderful year and feel this experience has contributed a lot to be the person I am today. Thank you! – Viktória Keresztes
For me personally, it was a childhood dream, the big American dream! – Norbert Szabó
As a child, I was a basketball player, so it was all about the NBA. But as time went by, I also fell in love with economics and I was looking for the best opportunity to develop myself as an economist, as well as a person. When I was selected for The Central European American Business Leadership Program, it not only offered me the opportunity to accomplish my childhood dream and live overseas but also helped me to get closer to my adult goal: to be a successful and influential leader in the region where I was born.
The journey started with the responsibility to move 8,000 km away from my home and family and continued with about 200 applications to get an American job as a foreign student.
The process of finding a job taught me what is true perseverance and tendentiousness. The hard work always pays off and I received a job offer from Henkel, where I perfectly found my desired work environment. – Norbert Szabó
During my year at Henkel North America, working in Purchasing, I could experience how Americans do business, negotiate and what are the working standards in the American headquarter of a global corporation. After my first 3 months at Henkel, I performed at the manager level by providing support to six Purchasing Category Managers to optimize sourcing in North America, preparing 2020 spend baseline for the packaging department, and assisting to optimize the sourcing processes in order to obtain the best prices and terms with American and global suppliers as well.
Being a full-time MBA student at Quinnipiac University and performing at the manager level at Henkel, truly helped me to push myself to the limit and to deliver the best possible performance by experiencing situations every day where I had to get out of my comfort zone. Time management and prioritization were crucial for me, especially because I was commuting 2-3 hours every day to Henkel’s Rocky Hill and Stamford offices.
Acquiring all these experiences, receiving my MBA degree, and working hard every day have helped me to get closer to my ultimate goal. I received an offer to be a Category Manager in Henkel’s India, Middle East, and Africa region working in the Bratislava office, remotely. I truly believe that this MBA scholarship offered me the essential input to become a great business leader, a useful and impactful person for the region where I was born.