A Global Graduate

June 10, 2013—Since graduating from the Hilltop four years ago, Jane Chiao (C’09) has traveled the globe, been short-listed for one of the most popular and competitive jobs in the world, and gained a new appreciation for Georgetown.

Chiao double majored in economics and physics while at Georgetown. Now, working in derivative sales at the financial services firm Morgan Stanley, she believes that the skills acquired from both majors have helped her to succeed professionally.

“My job now is pretty analytical. There’s a lot of math involved. But it’s not just math—it [involves] what you learn from physics and economics—problem-solving and thinking about all the different variables, [which helps] you interact with a situation, come up with different ideas, or have different approaches to solve one problem,” Chiao said.

At Georgetown, Chiao was also active in several “culture clubs” on campus, including the South Asian Society, the Hawaiian Club, and the Filipino Club.

Most important to her was her leadership role in the Support Education in Rural China program, in which Georgetown students raised scholarship money for impoverished children in China who often “can’t afford to go to school,” she said.

Chiao’s interest in the plight of rural Chinese children was sparked by a trip after her senior year of high school to China, where she taught English in small villages. Chiao found that, through the Georgetown chapter of the Chinese Student Alliance, she could work with socially conscious Hoyas to find ways to help empower people in rural China.

“Everyone [at Georgetown] wants to change the world for the better somehow. I’m sure there are awesome kids at every school, but for me, going from high school into a college situation where a lot of people [thought] like that was very cool,” Chiao said.

As a longtime travel enthusiast, Chiao has visited over a dozen countries, including Singapore, Belgium, the Philippines, Thailand, and, most recently, Iceland, which she described as a Narnia-like “magical wonderland” where “everything’s a glacier with bright blue ice.”

Despite her appreciation for travel, Chiao did not participate in a study abroad program while a student at Georgetown. She forewent an opportunity to study physics in Australia. Ironically, Australia has played a big role in her life recently.

In April of 2013, Chiao applied to the job of “chief funster” with Tourism Australia, an agency sponsored by the Australian government that promotes the country as an ideal destination for business and leisure travel. The chief funster attends and reviews festivals and events across New South Wales, the eastern Australian state.

Later that month, Chiao discovered that she had been selected as a finalist for the position, out of more than half a million applications from 196 countries.

Chiao believes a deciding factor in her being short-listed was the homemade 30-second video she submitted, in which she not only touted her social media savvy and love for “organizing fun events and fundraisers to bring people together,” but also got the endorsement from Stephen Colbert.

During a live taping of the Colbert Report, Chiao convinced the host to orchestrate a viral dance video “during the height of the Harlem Shake,” she said.

Although Chiao did not win the position of chief funster, she has learned a lot from the application process and the experience of promoting herself through social media with help from friends and family.

“I had to do everything in a two- or three-week period. I reached out to friends last minute—even people I don’t know well, like friends of friends—and everyone was so nice about it,” Chiao said.

“And I think it taught me if you really believe in something and put your mind and your heart into it, you can accomplish a lot.”

—Brittany Coombs