Abo: On preparing for the future

Bertrand Abo is a 2014-2015 Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) alumnus from Cote d’Ivoire who studied business management at Pierce College, receiving certificates in organization development and global business during his time there. Mr. Abo thrived in the atmosphere that the Community College Initiative (CCI) program offered and he explains here how his step by step plans for success that made him successful, before and after the program. He also shares a few updates about what he has been up to since graduating from the NWCCI program. (Hint: His travels and adventures have only just begun.)

Lunch with my office mates

Abo having lunch with his colleagues in India

One thing I always tell to my younger friends and bothers/sisters now when they ask me about my experience, is that they should be focused, “you can be whatever you want in life, if you have clear goals and stick to it,” I say.


Being wherever I am now and doing whatever I do is not because I am smarter, but because I have clear goals and I am ready to make the sacrifice needed to get to it. Being part of a program like NWCCI is a blessing for any young man/woman as long as we learn how to use it as a stepping stone for our success life.  Having proper goals for our life, being focused on what is important and relevant, and working hard with an open mind is my advice for the next generation.

Me and the group of interns visiting an Indian city

Today I can humbly recognize that I failed too many jobs/internships interviews before this program because of my English level and confidence in myself. NWCCI helped me develop the confidence I needed, improve my English level and add value to my resume. Because I studied in the U.S. and completed an internship at the World Trade Center in Tacoma, I found that many doors opened since I left the program. This program was a stepping stone for my professional and personal career and I still benefit today from the fruits of those 10 months of incredible learning. At the end of the program, I found and developed my passion and desire to build a strong international professional career, I was able to strengthen my English skills and build confidence in studying and working in a foreign, English speaking environment.

When I was very young I was fortunate to join the international youth organization, Association Internationale des Etudiants en Science Economique et Commerciale (AIESEC), through which I was exposed to foreign culture and leadership. I believe this program gave me an advantage in my studies because it is an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential. My last position in this organization, as the National President for AIESEC in Cote d’Ivoire, gave me the opportunity to travel to many countries in Africa and Europe for international conferences and meetings. Coming into the U.S. with that background helped me take better advantage of the NWCCI program, because I was prepared for what to expect and knew how to maximize the impact of the program for my future goals. It was however, challenging for me at the beginning, as it was the longest time I had spent far from home.

The position also led me to eventually finding a position through AIESEC. Approaching the end of the NWCCI program, I began applying to many jobs/internships globally and finally got selected for a one-year internship at TATA Consultancy Services in Pune, India as a business analyst through my connections in AIESEC. I was able to spend 11 incredible months in India discovering their culture and work environment style. That experience taught me what I knew before: I am passionate about global business and business management. My choice of India for my internship was mainly influenced by my Indian “brother” and roommate Pratap Kundu during my 10 months in Lakewood. I will never forget the different times we taught each other the traditional food of our country.

Being blessed by an elephant

Following my passion, before the end of my internship in India, I started looking for my next destination to expand my learning and skills. Again through the network of AIESEC, I found a long term internship at the U.S. Corporate Headquarters of the United Parcel Service (UPS) in the International Marketing Team, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The NWCCI program is very special. It gave us both the cultural understanding of U.S. culture and academic immersion through real classes with other American students, and also taught me how to succeed in the professional world. Our three weeks spent with our host families were an incredible and successful way to rapidly learn and adjust to the American culture and differences. Even today, like most of the other students, I am still connected to my wonderful host/friendship family with whom we exchange gifts at Christmas, during birthdays, and any other special events. We have created bonds that time and distance cannot break.

Spending time and learning with the Hindu priests

I can remember one of the trainings during our (NWCCI) group retreat where I learned that I am responsible for building the future I want, and that I myself am the only limitation to my future.


Abo, Pratap and friends during his time on the NWCCI.

Today when I look back at the NWCCI program, I cannot believe it has only been a year because of the many results this program has brought to my life and to the lives of the other students. At a personal level, I made strong friendship throughout the world with my fellow NWCCI students. I am very grateful to our wonderful program team and especially to Bebhinn Horrigan for her wonderful job, advice and teachings from day one until the last day. With her support we have been able to overcome our challenges and fully embrace the program. It is with great pain that I have learned that the program was at its end, but I believe that its impact in the lives of the students like me will never end.

Spending time and learning with the Hindu priests2

Abo with Hindu priests during his time in India.

US Dept of StateThe NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the students or bloggers.

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