Brazil: Hot Beaches, Hot Parties, and a Hot Job Market

Mariah Byrne

Last Updated Jan 27, 2010 1:36 PM EST

You know you’ve dreamed this dream: tropical weather, a population known for throwing the world’s biggest parties, beautiful beaches, and beautiful people. Ah, Brazil! The land of the Samba, Carniv le, and the G-string bikini is also home to Latin America’s biggest economy (GDP of $1.27 trillion) and is one of the first G-20 countries to emerge from the recession, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The quick economic turnaround, according to a recent EIU report, reflects a diversified economy, a good mix of trading partners, and a healthy financial system. All of this is leading to plenty of job opportunities, especially in hot industries such as aerospace and IT. In addition, Rio de Janeiro was just picked to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and so is gearing up for an influx of investments.

Mariah Byrne

Mariah Byrne.

Mariah Byrne, who in May received her MBA from University California at Berkeley Haas Business School, says beaches had nothing to do with her decision to head south. Her goal was simply to get work experience outside the United States, and live somewhere appealing while doing so.

After a summer spent interning in New York at Katzenbach Partners, a consultancy, Byrne says she decided that she wanted to work abroad after she got her MBA. She chose Brazil, largely because the economy was relatively healthy and Portuguese seemed conquerable.

Since there was no obvious reason why a company in Brazil would hire her, she asked herself what a prospective employer might question: Was she serious about Brazil? Has she ever been here? Does she speak Portuguese or can she learn it quickly enough to be effective?

Bryne was serious, and wanted to show it. She took intensive Portuguese classes during her final year in business school at Haas, and in October of that same year, she flew to São Paulo to arrange informational interviews.

Bryne turned those informal contacts into formal interviews and this month began working as a management consultant in the São Paolo office of McKinsey & Company — an accomplishment that she’s still in awe over.

“I still have trouble believing I got a job in a country I had never been to other than a quick trip to do interviews, in a language I did not yet speak, with one of the most selective employers around, in the worse economy we’ve seen in my lifetime,” says Byrne.

International career advisers, however, aren’t surprised. While freshly minted MBAs have been struggling to find work in the States, opportunities abound in Brazil, says Mary Anne Thompson, founder and president of Going Global. “Bottom line is businesses of all sizes are internationalizing and increasing the demand for international workers,” she says. “If you have a certain level of management, or an MBA and can hit the ground running, there is a place for you.”

The main challenge with going to Brazil for work is that Americans need work visas. As happened with Bryne, however, companies are often willing to sponsor you through the process.

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