Branding Yourself

Bauer Alumnus Continues to Make an Impact on International Students

For international students, the process of higher education and finding a job post-graduation is tougher than the average student. Bauer alumnus Alejandro Sanoja (MBA ‘17) has dedicated himself in helping those students with his expertise in personal branding.

Sanoja, originally from Venezuela, joined the C. T. Bauer College of Business as an international student in 2013. Since graduating in 2017, he has stayed very involved as a speaker at events such as the International Student Orientation and as a guest lecturer for the Cougar Investment Fund.

“Being an international student is kind of like the video game Super Mario Bros.,” Sanoja said. “Normally you can move forward and backwards and nothing happens, but there are some levels where the walls are pushing you to only move forward. I was not a good student in high school and the same in college. When I came to Bauer, moving forward was the only choice I had.”

Sanoja became very involved at Bauer trying to grow his network through volunteer and presentation opportunities, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and even the Bauer MBA Ambassadors. These accolades earned him the honor of graduating as the Outstanding MBA Graduate from Bauer. He emphasized that while the in-class aspects of school are important, networking is the biggest key for an international student being successful.

“You learn through Bauer, through the communications classes, through working with the Rockwell Career Center, the International Student roundtables, that you have to get out there and you have to meet people,” Sanoja said. “Everyone likes to say ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ I like to frame it as ‘it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you and what they know about you.’”

Because of his experiences as an international student, Sanoja created Latinpresarios, a marketing agency based around helping international students and introverts improve their personal branding skills. His work in this field earned him the honor of being named one of six personal branding experts to follow in 2022 as well as being a TEDx speaker. With this, Sanoja created a guide for international students about how to brand themselves and maneuvering the workforce in a new country because of his experience as both an international student and an introvert.

“I feel like all of those feel good for a moment but then the emotion goes away,” Sanoja said. “Being able to help someone for example at the International Student Orientation and then going to a Bauer event having them share how valuable that was to him and how he was able to already apply some of the components. That lasting effect is a little more important.”

International students are highly encouraged to get involved like Sanoja did. Senior Career Development Specialists Erin Sweeney and Stacey Piefer both work with international students in helping guide them through their time at Bauer. The two focus on getting the students acclimated with events such as the international student roundtable and the international student orientation.

“One thing to know is you are not alone,” Sweeney said. “We try to provide them with easier opportunities to build their confidence. That’s why in the international student orientation, we have the student leaders come and talk about the opportunities to get involved and a lot of them get involved and eventually become student leaders.”

Sanoja’s involvement with Bauer has made a lasting impact for many international students who come to the program.

“It gives them a starting point,” Piefer said. “Having someone like Alejandro come in and talk about what personal branding is and his personal story helps them through their journey. It’s really important to have alumni that you can look up to who not only takes you through the journey of personal branding but takes you through his own journey in how he started and where he is today.”

With all the accolades that have come his way, Sanoja has kept a level head and made sure to continue making a difference. It is most important to him that he continues to tell his story so that people can learn and grow in whatever way he is able to do that.

“I always tell students to be professional and focus on what you need to do to succeed because we have a lot more pressure as international students but don’t forget to have a little bit of fun and make some friends,” Sanoja said. “Those will probably be the friends for the rest of your life.”