Working while exploring the world


by Jess Nickels (’21)

Madison Fazio (’17) in Gran Canaria, Spain

SUMMARY: Madison Fazio (’17) reflects on her time at JMU’s College of Business as she redefines the idea of an “office” by living abroad and working remotely.

Specialized programs and events are woven into the culture of the College of Business. With student success in mind, Career Treks, etiquette dinners, study abroad, as well as professional clubs like Madison Investment Fund are designed to give students the exposure to choose the right career path for themselves. 

College of Business alumni go on to do great things, blazing their own trails, building relationships and driving today’s evolving business world. Amid these transformations, however, work environments and job requirements look different than they used to. Remote work is now a widely popular option for young adults, many of whom experienced the pandemic at an impressionable time in their development. There’s no doubt that the pandemic caused a shift in mindset when it comes to work. People work to make a living, but also want to live.

Madison Fazio (’17) has worked remotely in 14 countries since she accepted her position at Fundrise, a real-estate investment platform. “This position has changed my life,” she said. But, Fazio put in a lot of work to get herself to where she wanted to be.

“I had a gut feeling about JMU as soon as I stepped onto the quad,” Fazio said. “When I toured the College of Business I loved the Gaglioti Capital Markets Lab and all of the opportunities there were to get involved in clubs and activities. The amenities housed in the CoB were a huge selling point for me,” she said.

Fazio worked and lived in Patagonia, Argentina.

Fazio jumped right into her academic journey, attending the New York City Career Trek her first year at JMU. “The Career Treks were invaluable to me because they really allowed me to see and feel what the city was like and how the company operated. At the end of the day you want to make sure that the culture matches your lifestyle and it’s important to feel like you fit well,” she said. In addition to N.Y.C., she attended the D.C. trek her second year, and went on the San Francisco trek her third year. 

It’s important that graduates are satisfied in their career, so attending a Career Trek can be a great way to learn about a city or company before fully committing. Internships can fulfill the same purpose. Reflecting on her Bank of America internship, Fazio said, “I learned a lot at my internship about what I did and did not want to do in a finance career, but most importantly, I learned that the Wall Street culture was not for me and I really didn’t like living in N.Y.C.”

Seeking a smaller city experience and intrigued by her D.C. Career Trek, Fazio was determined to find a second internship. She explained that in order to jump-start her search, she went to the university’s Career and Academic Planning Center (now the University Career Center) and became friendly with the staff members there. 

Fazio said, “I would pop-in to say ‘hi’ and over time learned what companies would be on campus and when. One day I walked into the office and KPMG happened to be in there actively interviewing students, so I sat down and went for it.”

Fazio was offered an intern position and during her time at KPMG she continued to learn what career path she wanted to take, realizing that her Business Analytics minor would set her up for the career she wanted in the fintech industry.

Fazio completed her time at JMU, earning a B.B.A. in Finance with minors in Business Analytics and Studio Art, and began her career as a business analyst. After performing in that role for a few years, Fazio craved change again. She leveraged her network of peers from JMU and was put in contact with individuals from Fundrise where she accepted a position and now works on their build-for-rent team.

Pictured in Kauai, Hawaii, Fazio has worked remotely in 14 countries. 

Accepting a position at Fundrise changed the trajectory of Fazio’s life. She achieved her goal of working for a fintech company and at the same time, she’s fulfilling her passion to travel the world. She joined WiFi Tribe, a global coliving group composed of individuals who work remotely and share the same dreams of traveling.

These digital nomads work, live and travel together to different locations around the world for a few weeks at a time, before moving on to the next destination. Through her membership in the tribe, Fazio has been able to work and live in Argentina, Germany and Spain, to name only a few. 

“They set up accommodations in different countries for the people in the group and everyone is a remote worker,” she said. “I stick to working East Coast hours, but it has completely changed my life. I have so much choice now, and working remotely fits my lifestyle.” 

JMU introduced Fazio to a world of career possibilities, and through the CoB’s programming she was able to identify which aspects of a finance career appealed to her and which did not. “The experiences I had at JMU and the CoB were a great introduction to the skills you’ll need throughout your whole life. Growing and leveraging connections, preparing my resume and acting in a professional manner are all skills that I use to this day,” Fazio said. 

“You will be faced with many situations as you grow your career, so having someone to teach you these skills while you’re still a student is incredibly valuable,” she said. “CoB lays a great path in front of you to follow your passion all the way.”

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Published: Thursday, August 31, 2023

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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