"It is always important to have that cultural component to your education as the world becomes more globalized."
When two businesses become one in a merger or acquisition, it is a highly complex financial accounting process under normal circumstances, but what if the companies are in different countries? There are different currencies to factor in, different time zones, marketplaces, and corporate cultures at play. This is the type of work Maxwell DeMaio hopes to do and it is a career path that will take a unique set of skills.
Since high school Maxwell had enjoyed studying the French language and culture, and he earned a double major in French and accounting at URI. “Language is an important addition to any discipline,” he says. “The skills you develop as a language student, like writing papers in another language every day, give you the ability to present your work more clearly in other courses.”
"You get to know your professors really well here and they go out of their way to create interesting experiences for the students."
His interest in language led him to Grenoble, in Southeastern France, where he lived with a host family and studied French during the summer at the Université Grenoble Alps. Maxwell feels his language classes prepared him well for living with a family and communicating in French every day. He describes a class project where he had the opportunity to read and analyze a book in French, then work with the author to translate it into English. “You get to know your professors really well here and they go out of their way to create interesting experiences for the students,” he says.
In Grenoble, he not only improved his French, but he learned to adapt to everyday cultural differences. “Mealtimes in France are a very social and intimate part of family life,” he observes. “Also, I often found myself riding a bike around Grenoble and I used public transportation daily.”
His business classes gave him a unique perspective on how French public policy affects these daily activities. “In Europe gas is reflected by its real price; and it’s expensive. This encourages people to use public transportation or seek out other alternatives. In the United States, gas is cheap and this causes an artificially inflated demand for it. In reality, gasoline as a product has a high social cost. The real pricing of gasoline can lead to positive things: a movement towards electric cars, denser cities, and investment in public transportation–all things that support sustainability.”
By the time Maxwell reached his senior year, he was communicating easily in French, often frequenting the weekly conversation hours on campus, where students play games, converse, and joke around in French.
“It is always important to have that cultural component to your education as the world becomes more globalized,” he says.