Finding Joy in the internship experience abroad

Author: Emily Kempf

Joys InternshipJoy (far right) is pictured with her new friends at GuiaBolso

As the world’s ninth largest economy and sixth most populous country, opportunities abound in Brazil for those brave enough to chance them. The technology industry in particular has been experiencing growth, attracting tech-hungry entrepreneurs who are looking for adventurous and challenging opportunities in Brazil. It’s an attractive environment to Notre Dame students looking for opportunities to not only study abroad, but gain professional experiences as well.

Jiaying “Joy” Qian, a senior from Nanjing, China, is one such student who sought out an internship in Brazil during a São Paulo semester abroad.  As a business analytics major and Portuguese and Brazilian studies minor, Qian is passionate about dynamic emerging markets like Brazil and China.  She ultimately landed an internship with GuiaBolso, a financial technology start-up that seeks to use advanced technologies to empower Brazilians to improve their financial well-being.  The company’s app is the most downloaded Brazilian app in the Apple store and boasts four million users. Qian worked on the growth and the operations team as a business intelligence analyst.  Her analysis helped GuiaBolso measure and identify the most valuable digital marketing channels and investigate the influence of late loan fees.

Reflecting on her professional experience, Qian believes her work helped enhance her creative thinking and analytical skills. She enjoyed the challenge of communicating and collaborating with people from a completely different background in a professional setting. However, Qian says she was surprised to see how much the experience changed her personally. She was able to make great friends and learned a lot about herself.

“I am now more proactive and more confident,” beams Qian. “It’s been empowering to keep track of my own growth.”

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Since its opening in 2016, the São Paulo Global Center has worked with members of the Notre Dame family to place students in industries ranging from technology start-ups to education and NGOs.  Eager to attract Notre Dame students who can be a force for good in Brazil, local alumni, parents, and friends have been instrumental in placing students in meaningful opportunities. Qian’s internship with GuiaBolso is just one example.

Reflecting the technology trend, the University is well represented in the country’s burgeoning start-up industry.  A number of Notre Dame alumni and parents have played founding, managing, advising, and investing roles in Brazil-based companies.  The first known alumni to arrive in Brazil, Chris Lund (‘61) spent thirty-five years growing his business media company, finally selling it in 2007.  Throughout his time years in Brazil, Lund dedicated significant time and resources to helping Brazilian students of all socio-economic backgrounds have the opportunity to study at the University of Notre Dame.  More recently, he has taken to mentoring the emerging cohort of Notre Dame alumni in Brazil, including those who are founding and managing companies. As Chris says, his end goal was always to get Notre Dame alumni back in Brazil and “doing good things.”  Lund currently serves on the board of directors of a technology start-up,, founded by a Notre Dame graduate, who also hosts Notre Dame interns every summer.

After experiencing work and life in Brazil, Qian would encourage her fellow students to consider seeking a professional experience while studying abroad.

“This experience helped reveal my passions and ambitions, understand my strengths and vulnerabilities, and broaden my perspectives in every way,” reflects Qian.  "I am especially grateful to the amazing ND alumni in Brazil; they invested their time to get to know me and encouraged me to achieve my goals. They cared about me and believed in my potential.”

Click here to learn more about the Brazil internship program.