Our Stories

Gaining the Tools to Stay

STEM certification helps international student build career in USA .

Manuel Pascual-Vaca Lopez
Pathways Operating Manager, Amazon

Vanderbilt MBA 2022

As he considered MBA programs, Manuel Pascual Vaca Lopez had some very particular criteria in mind. An engineer by profession, he wanted to gain the business skills that could propel his career. He wanted “a school with a small class size in a mid-size city.” He knew what companies he was interested in working for, so he sought a school where those firms recruited on campus—and one that offered strong career management assistance. And, not least, he looked only at STEM-certified MBA programs, which enable graduates to take three years, rather than just one, to obtain an HB-1 visa.

Manuel concluded that the program that best met his criteria was Vanderbilt. “This program has given me the tools to become a successful professional in a corporate environment in the USA and provided me with the opportunities to accelerate my career,” he says.

Among the most valuable of those tools—beyond the knowledge he gained in the classroom—was the assistance of the Career Management Center. “Being an international student, job searching in the USA can be quite a challenge,” Manuel says. “The CMC was amazing in helping me prepare, and their seminars and one-on-one sessions made a huge difference. They help you through the whole process, from understanding what you want to do, to helping you write a wonderful resume, to doing mock interviews.” He credits his coach in the Leadership Development Program with helping him “understand what kind of leader I want to be and how to get there.”

All of those resources helped Manuel handle what he regarded as his most formidable challenge of all: completing the program while welcoming a new baby into his family and taking on the responsibilities of being a parent. “Being able to be on top of academic work, participate in clubs, socialize, and look for a job while navigating a pregnancy and then taking care of the baby has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I am very proud of how it turned out so well,” he says.

“This program has opened for me a world of opportunities. I have met incredibly interesting people from a variety of backgrounds and geographies, made lifelong friends, and gained the tools to become a successful professional in the USA.”

Fun Fact: A citizen of Spain, Manuel has lived in five countries and had business responsibilities on three continents.

Being an international student, job searching in the USA can be quite a challenge. The CMC was amazing in helping me prepare.