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Alumni Feature: Global Studies BDP Alumnus Transfers BDP Principles to Career in Shanghai

Dhawal Doshi graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a Bridging Disciplines Programs certificate in Global Studies, with a concentration in International Development. Dhawal currently lives and works in Shanghai, China, where he is a research supervisor for an American-led retail development company.

Discovering the BDPs

As an international student from India, Dhawal Doshi arrived at UT in 2006, unsure of his educational plans, but deeply interested in global issues. “It was a very different experience to be in an educational system where I had so much freedom to choose courses,” Dhawal said. Starting in his first semester, Dhawal began learning Chinese, unaware that it would be his primary language upon leaving the university.

As a college sophomore, Dhawal discovered the Bridging Disciplines Programs while reading about undergraduate research opportunities. The Global Studies program aligned with his interests, and he was drawn to the BDP support system, which includes academic advisors, faculty mentors, and scholarship opportunities. “I found BDP to be a refuge,” Dhawal said. “If I wanted to do something that didn’t exist in the university’s structure, BDP helped me find a place to express that passion.” Later during his sophomore year, Dhawal participated in a Maymester program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, which expanded his interest in China and international affairs.

Connecting Experiences

For his first BDP Connecting Experience, Dhawal co-authored a paper with Dr. Catherine Boone in the Department of Government. The paper, explored China’s investment model in African nations, and was later published as a chapter in Promises of Success: Muslim States in Search of Development Models (Edinburgh University Press, 2009). Dhawal and Dr. Boone presented their findings at a conference in London, and Dhawal was awarded a $1,000 BDP scholarship to assist with his travel expenses. Following this experience, Dhawal pursued other research projects, and presented his findings at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, as well as at a conference hosted at Peking University. For both presentations, Dhawal was awarded scholarships from the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Finding a Career after Graduation

After graduating from UT, Dhawal explored several different career paths. He returned to India and attended conferences and other events, where he met business professionals, academics, and diplomats. He was soon hired to work at an engineering company, at its new location in China. For work, Dhawal traveled throughout China and the United Arab Emirates. In 2011, Dhawal was hired as a research supervisor for a retail development start-up company in Shanghai, where he still works today.

In his current position, Dhawal manages a department that works with architects, engineers, financial advisors, and attorneys. His team’s research reports drive business decisions and are relayed to investors and clients. Dhawal is continually praised for his research and writing skills, which he attributes to his experiences in the Bridging Disciplines Programs. “Conducting detail-oriented research, expressing a clear opinion, writing, proofreading, and editing—those skills came from writing a book chapter,” Dhawal said. “Even when I applied for scholarships, I had to write proposals about what I wanted to accomplish. That in itself was great practice for the business world and securing bank investments.” He continued, “BDP helped facilitate my writing skills and the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences…. The lesson I took from the BDPs was that even if I am not x by trade, I still need to interact and communicate with people from different disciplines. The sooner students are made aware of this fact, it becomes a practice and they are not just thinking about earning credits, but about maximizing their [undergraduate] experience.”

Dhawal plans to remain in Shanghai and is interested in learning more about business and finding solutions for urban development, including infrastructure and housing. He is eager to see how China’s economic growth and retail development industry evolve over the next few years.

Written by: 
Erin Thomas