From Brazil to California: Professionals take educational journey to gain U.S. career opportunities

The decision to jump on a corporate jet to interview in San Francisco at the headquarters of one of the fastest growing communications companies in California wasn’t an easy one.

Instead, it was part of an ongoing transformational journey that began in Curitiba, Brazil, where Amadeu dos Santos made the decision to learn U.S. business practices.

Amadeu dos Santos

“In Brazil, I worked for a fast-paced telecom company where things moved along so quickly, it was a great work experience and even though I was in a consistent position in my career I knew that something had to be done in order to continuously grow” said dos Santos.

Understanding the abrupt nature of business environments, he knew it would soon be necessary to learn about the U.S. business culture to gain global perspective and earn the potential to advance within the human resources profession.

Following a recent promotion to senior human resources manager at Global Village Telecom, GVT, dos Santos decided to take the steps to expand his business knowledge globally. He applied to the Business Programs for International Students at UC San Diego Extension, designed exclusively for international students.

Upon entering the professional certificate program in Business Management, he elected to specialize in Human Resource Management, a curriculum based on American HR business practices.

During enrollment in the HR program, dos Santos completed two courses that set him up with what would become his future employer, WiLine Networks.

As part of a course requirement, dos Santos was able to work as an intern on a project that allowed him to apply his newly acquired HR knowledge. Following a needs assessment, he developed a step-by-step process for the company to implement continuous training and onboarding programs to help reduce turnover and maximize human capital – something he values as one of the most important resources companies have.

“Before the program, I thought language was going to be the biggest learning barrier. But, the full-time program, interaction with teachers and peers gave me the correct tools to learn, improve myself and I began to understand the different American business mindset.

“I had to break past this obstacle on how to balance assertiveness – a universal challenge that is unique in every country. Once I learned this, I was able to improve my language to express ideas that made sense here,” said dos Santos.

Today, he works in Silicon Valley, California, where he lives with his wife and their newborn. Dos Santos is just one of the many program graduates hired on by U.S.-based companies seeking to gain international perspective.

Like Dos Santos, Bruna Elias is also from Brazil, and is just starting to climb the professional ladder. Elias said she realized early on that to stand out competitively, she would need to offer something more than English proficiencies.

bruna-nogueira-(1).jpg  Bruna Elias

Elias had studied English in her native country since 2001. She first visited the United States to study the language in 2010 in Santa Barbara, and instantly fell in love with California. She returned to Brazil to attend ESPM in Porto Alegre to pursue a bachelor’s in International Relations, but Elias decided to return to the United States for further study so she could better understand American business. She applied to earn a certificate in Business Essentials, one of the four certificate programs offered at UC San Diego Extension’s Business Programs for International Students.

“I had no doubt about UC San Diego Extension and knew it would be a pleasure to study in one of the best universities in the world. I selected to enroll in the nine-month (four-quarter) program that allowed me to apply for one year of temporary employment, Optional Practical Training (OPT),” said Elias.

For Brazilians, Elias explained, the chance to work in the United States is a sought-after opportunity.

After graduating from the program in June 2016, Elias said she was impressed with the content and appreciated learning with people who came from all over the globe.

“This was a unique opportunity for me because I could understand that the same subject we learn in our country can be seen with different eyes – from one person to another. That is one of the most wonderful experiences we can have in life – to share our opinions and knowledge with others,” she said.

Elias will soon learn if she is approved for Optional Practical Training. She said she feels she is ready to share all that she has learned and hopes to continue to grow her knowledge by working with an American company.

“It is a huge experience to work with Americans and other nationalities. I am so thankful for UC San Diego Extension to have taught so many theories and also how to be more human,” she said.

To learn more about UC San Diego Extension’s Business Programs for International Students, visit or contact Bobby at

UC San Diego Extension Business Programs for International Students offers four full-time certificate programs to help students with advanced English language proficiency increase their understanding of U.S. business practices. Certificate programs include Project Management, Business Essentials, Intermediate Business Essentials, and Business Management. Students can choose to further specialize in finance, marketing, human resources, and global commerce.

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