Griffith University alumnus Hugh Hurst is proof that a global exchange can change your life.
His initial exchange to the United States was only supposed to last six months. Then it turned into a year. And then, thanks to Hugh’s proactiveness and hard work, it turned into an internship with State Farm, one of the US’s most prolific financial institutions.
But that’s not where it ended. After months of hard work, and tenacity, and more than a few meetings with different supervisors, Hugh was able to turn his internship into a full-time job offer.
“About two months into my internship I was really enjoying what I was doing in the company I was working for, and I set up a meeting with my direct supervisor and I said, ‘Look, I want to work for State Farm and I want to work for the bank because I really enjoy what I am doing’,” he explains.
He reached out to various managers and supervisors throughout the company, expressing interest in any open positions State Farm had and confirming his commitment to the bank.
“It was really all from just networking and reaching out to people,” he says. And because he had well and truly proven himself during his internship, the company took notice.
“During the six months there my team sold about $1.5 billion dollars of loans,” Hugh says. “And I was doing all the analysis on how to make it more profitable for the bank. And at that point, I was only an intern!”
Hugh said the company had been so impressed with his work, that they looked at creating a position for him, but in an office where he could be close to a special someone he had met back in Australia.
The former Bachelor of Commerce student always knew he wanted to do a global exchange with Griffith University but hadn’t been totally sure on where he wanted to go. That all changed due to a chance meeting in Cairns with the woman who would become his fiance.
“I was up there for a weekend away, she was up there because she was touring Australia as an exchange student. And we just happened to be on the same white water rafting trip!” he said.
They dated for a while, and when she finally returned to the US, he knew what he needed to do.
“I always had the academic aspirations to go overseas, but I also wanted to be close to my then-girlfriend, so that’s why I chose Illinois State. She was in St Louis which was about two hours away.”
The bond between the pair only grew as he studied in the US, and finally, during his exchange, Hugh got down on one knee and she said yes!
And when State Farm company finally offered him a full-time position, they had made sure it was in an office close to his fiancee.
Hugh can’t speak highly enough of the benefits of doing an exchange overseas to challenge yourself. “I would recommend it to anyone,” he confirms. He also sings the praises of being involved in extracurricular university activities to increase your skills and beef up your resume.
“I was the president of the Griffith Business Students Association, I was involved in the accounting at Griffith University Accounting and Finance Students Association, The Griffith University Economics and Finance Students Association, and lots of other associations,” the former student, whose parents also attended Griffith University, explains.
“Being involved in all these groups gives you networking skills just by talking to people in your own degree. You might not necessarily think it’s networking or think you’re building skills, but it teaches you how to speak to people you’ve never met, which is an extremely important skill in the business world in general,” he says.
He says his time at Griffith was instrumental in giving him the skills and drive he needed to turn his exchange into an internship and then finally into a job.
“Griffith Uni taught me how to study on my own,” he says. “It taught me how to motivate myself and to develop my own study habits that work for me.
“Having studied overseas and back here, I can say the quality of education at Griffith has just in general is very high.”