August 29, 2017
When you ask senior management information systems major Abraham Toure where he is from, he responds, “That’s a very interesting question. I’m literally from all over the place.”
While the WVU College of Business and Economics student was born in the United States, he grew up all around the globe, including cities like Paris, France. Toure’s father is from Guinea, West Africa, and his mother is from Mali, West Africa. She is also a flight attendant, so his family relocated every few years.
“Basically, I’m from the world. [I’ve experienced] so many different cultures, and I’ve picked up several different languages. I speak English, French, Spanish and now I know some Mandarin. I also speak some African dialects from West Africa,” he said.
Obviously, Toure is no stranger to travel. So, when Summer 2017 rolled around and students cleared the WVU campus, Toure packed his bags to jet set off to Silicon Valley to be a data analyst intern at the world’s most powerful music discovery platform Pandora.
“It was a fantastic experience just being in the Bay Area. I had access to top-notch talent. My manager is really great at what he does. I got to meet very high ranking people in the company. The people were just so accessible. As a tech professional aspirant, it was very nice just being there seeing how high-ups work and how things are getting linked up there. It’s completely different than what we read on blogs,” he said.
As a data analyst intern at Pandora’s Oakland, California, location, Toure was on the pricing and yield management team, but he was also able to work with both the audience monetization and sales and analytics teams.
“When I did my interview, they gave me a big picture view of my responsibilities during the internship, but it really never happened because as I got there, I kind of created my own internship. They were really, really cool about it. I was doing what I really wanted to learn and what I wanted to do for the teams, like solving problems and inconsistencies through an analysis of top-selling ad segments.”
Toure garnered a lot of technical and professional skills during his internship. The culture of innovation and education at Pandora and the overall experience also taught him a lot on a different level.
“Obviously, [my greatest takeaway] is the experience itself and everything that I learned, but that’s more on the learning process side. Something I realized personally and something I want to share with other students is you don’t have to confine yourself within the walls of your major or areas of expertise. People say things like, ‘I’m a Spanish or English major, so I can never land a tech job.’ And that makes sense because we are so major-centric here,” he said. “There, it’s more global, it’s so much broader. Basically, as long as you have the willingness to learn new skills and what it takes for a new job, you can land any job there, technical or not.”
As you know by now, Toure has a very global mindset. So it was only natural that he took advantage of study abroad. When deciding his study abroad destination, he wanted something different. And while his favorite country in Asia is Japan, he knew as a business student that it was important to experience China. In the Fall 2016 semester, he attended the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in Shanghai, China.
“When I got there, it wasn’t a shock because I have already traveled to so many places, so I’m pretty adaptable. But when I got there, it was still different. Chinese people are different. China is different. Everything is different. The way you go to the supermarket, the way you eat, the way use the Internet, everything is different. I had to adapt to that but it was fantastic, because I really like that kind of experience where you have to do everything completely different and meet new people,” he said.
While it is early in the semester, graduation is right around the corner for the globe trotter. He will finish up his time at WVU in December, and then he is off on his next adventure, taking three months off to travel Nepal, India, Thailand and Vietnam. But, he is also looking ahead to his career with a few options on the table, while also working on side projects with dreams of one day being a CEO of his own company.
“I don't mind doing the dirty work or touching a little bit of everything in the field, learning for a little while before I actually try something on my own. I am not rushing at all but eventually, that’s where I want to go. And before that, I think after graduation, I might go back to Silicon Valley,” he said.
With his background, Toure says the ability to adapt and immerse himself in different cultures comes very naturally. He is also very grateful to his parents for fostering this sense of comfortability when it comes to exploring new places and cultures. But he does offer a piece of advice to both domestic and international students from a global perspective.
“Travel a lot, meet different people, be comfortable outside of your comfort zone. Even though that doesn’t make sense, you have to try. Always be willing to try different things, learn different things and grow as a person,” he said.