Preparation Meets Opportunity: GTA Grad Reflects on Her Experience

Berenice Lopez Sanchez

Berenice López is a recent graduate of Global Detroit’s Global Talent Accelerator, a selective program that prepares international students and graduates for the US job market. A former project manager for General Motors from Mexico City, Berenice received her MFA in Integrated Design from the College for Creative Studies in May 2020. Below is a speech she gave at the Summer 2020 GTA virtual graduation, in which she discusses some of the challenges of transitioning to the US job market and the ways GTA has helped.

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.” 

Does anybody know who said this?

This is what President Johnson said when he signed the Immigration and Nationality Act amendments in 1965. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the GTA program, which supports this belief. Thanks to the program, not only did I become more prepared to navigate the job market in the US, but I also had the opportunity to meet some of the brilliant people who form part of the prosperous industry in southeast Michigan and also, other talented and qualified international students who wish to become part of this dynamic community.

My name is Berenice; I was born and raised in Mexico City and I am going to tell you a little bit about myself and how GTA has helped me in the pursuit of my professional goal.

Before I came here, I used to work as a project manager in the engineering center of General Motors in Mexico. Although I loved working in a global company like GM, after 5 years I wanted to change the focus of my career to design. Therefore, I decided to learn about User Experience Design and focus on the human-vehicle interaction. I concluded that the best place to learn the necessary skills was Detroit because of its rich history in the automotive industry. I asked people from the design department at GM where they went to school and that is how I learned about the College for Creative Studies. So, I enrolled in the MFA Integrated Design program and that’s how I became part of the large community of international students in southeast Michigan.

Honestly, when I came here I thought it would be easy to find a job. I had experience in the automotive industry and I was getting a master’s degree from a college that is popular in the design area of the industry. What could go wrong? However, my shock came last summer when I was not able to land a summer internship. I could not understand what had gone wrong.

Therefore, when the time came to find a job after graduation, I decided to take a more proactive attitude towards finding a job and that is how I came across the Global Talent Accelerator program.

Before GTA, I had never heard about the applicant tracking system and did not know how to optimize my resume to pass the bots’ scan. I did not know how important LinkedIn is now days when job hunting or how networking is more effective than sending hundreds of online applications. In other words, I was not prepared to navigate the American job market. I had all the qualifications but did not know how to present myself.

If I had to use a word to describe The Global Talent Accelerator, it would be holistic. We not only learned how to sell ourselves in the US job market, but we also had the opportunity to learn about the immigration and work visa process, racial equity, and even how to keep a healthy mindset during this difficult situation. Also, we were able to talk to people who went through the experience of looking for a job, and we got to ask questions. Finally, we even had the opportunity to connect with some companies in southeast Michigan.

The roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  I strongly believe GTA not only has helped me to be prepared but it has also helped me to create my own opportunities. That’s why I am so grateful I was able to join this program.