Maria from Colombia

How a teenage holiday to visit relatives in Sydney led to full tertiary studies in Australia.

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Alumna University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie Graduate School of Management

I knew Australia would be an amazing country to study in after my first visit as a teenager on a family holiday. Since that trip, I was fortunate to return and complete my studies at the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie Graduate School of Management.  

Now, with more than 10 years’ experience in marketing, brand management and communications, I have returned to Columbia and work as an Agency Marketing Manager LATAM at Facebook.

Why I chose Australia

When you turn 15 in Colombia, there’s a tradition that you either have a huge party or go on a big trip. My uncle lives in Sydney, so I chose to visit him for one month in the summer. I loved it – the weather, the multicultural vibe, the opportunity to experience somewhere totally new. Because my uncle works at a university, I was able to tour the campus. It was beautiful. I knew right away that I wanted to study in Australia.

So, as soon as I finished high school, I returned to Sydney to pursue a Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), majoring in marketing and finance. Both of my parents work in business, and I decided at a young age that I would follow a similar path.

The Aussie experience

Studying in Australia helped me become a lot more independent. In Latin America, I never went anywhere alone as people are always together, while in Australia you can go for a coffee or to the library by yourself. The lifestyle is very relaxed and there’s a lot of focus on work-life balance, which was a game-changer, as I used to get quite stressed about my studies.

Australia is a very multicultural country. That was the best part about it for me. In Colombia, I was used to dealing only with Colombian people, whereas in Australia you meet people from all around the world and you learn about different cultures, traditions and customs. This experience really opened my mind to a bigger world.

After graduation I was set on a career in marketing. Australia had become my home, so I decided to stay on, working for a couple of advertising agencies specialising in digital marketing. Then I moved to a social media company, just as digital marketing underwent rapid growth around the world.

Studying a Master of Business Administration (MBA)

I’d always wanted to do a Master of Business Administration (MBA), so I started looking for options and found the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. It was in this course that I really started to understand how to navigate complex structures in large global companies.

I learned how to work with people from different business functions like operations and accounting, to devise innovative solutions to complicated problems.

Returning home

After 10 years in Australia, I decided to return to Colombia to be closer to my family. While I was working with a tech start-up, I applied for a role with Facebook .

I was one of the first people to join Facebook in Colombia, and I really believe my early exposure to social media marketing, and experience studying and working in multicultural Australia, made me an attractive candidate to such a progressive, global company.

I’ve recently moved into a new role as agency marketing manager for the entire Latin American region – the first person in Facebook Colombia to land such a role. I feel very proud. What’s more, I’m also able to enjoy a wonderful work-life balance. I always thought this was only possible in Australia, but because of all the experience and education that Australia gave me, I'm able to have it in Colombia too.