Katherinne Zuñiga believes that the International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) is more than a program; it’s a lifestyle. Not only has IBEA made it possible for her to live, study, and work in four countries outside of her native France, but the program also motivated her to move to Greece for a project management internship, confirming that project management is her career. Katherinne credits her IBEA experience with helping her carve out her own path in entertainment and culture.

Why did you want to join the IBEA track at ESSEC?

I wanted to join IBEA because it is a unique undergraduate opportunity to study, work, and live in different countries. It would be different from and similar to ESSEC’s paths, like apprenticeships, exchanges, double degrees, and more. By doing the IBEA, I would have the chance to experience a bit of all the paths. My experience would be like an apprenticeship since I would work on projects with different companies each semester. It would resemble a double degree since I am graduating from ESSEC and IBEA. And finally, it is like a two-year exchange program in four universities.

What has the IBEA program enabled you to do?

Being in the IBEA program has enabled me to grow as a person. It’s possible to feel at home in countries I would never have imagined living in and get to know the most unique people. This experience taught me how to enjoy getting out of my comfort zone. Despite all the work behind it, moving from place to place is a new opportunity. I have become more open-minded and have had the chance to live many lives during these two years, adapting to new cultures and working environments.

This unique experience has prepared me for my next steps. It has enabled and motivated me to move to Greece for my internship, taking on a new adventure in a new country with new challenges. For me, IBEA is a lifestyle. I cannot see myself living a “normal” life anymore, and I am motivated to become even more international and add more countries to my profile.

In the future, I would like to work in the entertainment industry. I have always been passionate about different forms of storytelling, and I consider entertainment a key asset in life to brighten up each day. I am working on fulfilling my dream by doing Bocconi’s MSc in ACME (Economics and Management in the Arts, Culture, Media, and Entertainment) after graduating from ESSEC.

How did the pandemic affect your IBEA experience?

I’m not going to lie. It was devastating for all of us when the pandemic happened. We thought the most unique opportunity had been taken away before it started.

However, we got to know each other better through the screens and weekly team meetings for corporate projects. We learned to work within different time zones (sometimes, we had up to 4 different time zones in one group), and this online experience made us appreciate each opportunity we had to live abroad in the following semesters.

Thanks to the pandemic, once we were all reunited in Singapore, we didn’t waste any time; everyone had the same mindset of getting the most out of our time together.

What are your tips for getting into IBEA?

If you want it, apply even if you think you won’t get in. You don’t lose anything by using; the program is not for everyone, and not everyone applies, so don’t think twice! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you won’t regret!

Don’t worry about the paperwork and the struggle of moving to a new country each semester. The benefits of this experience surpass the costs. The paperwork is only temporary. Once it’s done, the rest of the time is yours.

If you have the chance at ESSEC, learn either Portuguese or German as LV3. Knowing the basics of either language will make you enjoy your IBEA journey even more. Start living the IBEA experience from day one by hanging out with your IBEA classmates. Get to know the city you are in, and don’t leave plans for later!