We have been here for a full week now and sometimes I still cannot believe I am really here. Traveling to new places, experiencing different cultures, and exploring the world has always been my dream. Now that it is really happening, it almost seems too good to be true.
My first week outside of North America was spent exploring the city at a non-stop pace. While also fighting the jet lag, as soon as we got off the plane and left our bags at the hotel, we were immediately off to begin our orientation to Berlin. In one day I experienced more than I could have ever hoped for a few years ago. We saw the Brandenburg Gate, The Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and a bunch of other landmarks in the city.
The rest of the week was spent similarly with each day focusing on a different aspect of German Culture. I really have enjoyed everything we had the opportunity to experience this past week. Like I said, in a way, this is everything I have ever wanted. I think the reason it does not always feel real is that, in a way, it is actually even better than I expected. I have always wanted to come to Europe, but I never imagined I would get to do it with such a great group!
None of us from Pitt on this program had known each other before we got here (except maybe as a familiar face in Sennott Square.) We may have had a week to get to know each other, but everyone who traveled here to intern this summer has become friends very quickly! I knew I would have fun experiencing Germany, but getting to do so with so many great people has made everything even better.
As much as I enjoy exploring the city and all it has to offer, today we all began the reason we came to this country in the first place. Today was the first day of my internship with Juniqe, and everything went better than I expected. As excited as I have been for this study abroad experience, this is both my first time in Europe as well as my first internship. I went in today hoping for the best, but I was still pretty nervous.
Although I had spent a bit of time last semester researching the company I would be spending the next seven weeks with, I still was not sure just what to expect on my first day. It turns out I had nothing to worry about! Everyone at Juniqe is very friendly and the company has a unique culture that I am so excited to be a part of.
Most of my first day was spent filling out paperwork and setting up internal company accounts for myself, but I think that I finished the day with a much better idea of what the rest of the summer will hold for me. I got to know my coworkers a bit as well as get a feel for the company culture. Most importantly, I learned a lot about what type of industry Juniqe is participating in.
Juniqe’s motto is simple and clear, “Art. Everywhere.” That being said, you can probably guess what industry we are operating in. Juniqe sells artwork in the form of posters, paintings, and a variety of other decorations to different marketed areas in Europe. I personally do not know much about art, nor was I familiar with any similar companies in Europe. I was filled in on with the names of several of Juniqe’s competitors and their strategies, and I am beginning to understand why they are the most successful.
Unlike competitors, Juniqe does not have a warehouse as everything is created on a made to order basis. This, along with the external community of artists that creates the company’s inventory, gives Juniqe a unique (aptly named) quality while eliminating storage costs.
As I have quickly learned while working with my team, a good portion of Juniqe’s sales are from outside of Germany. Being based in the middle of Europe gives Juniqe an advantage both in the influences in the artwork that is given to them and allows for a diverse market. I am very excited, and also slightly daunted, at working with the “business to business” team as the lead person for the account in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. With the UK’s departure from the European Union delayed until October, Juniqe is seizing the opportunity to conduct tariff-free business there for one last summer.
Eight weeks sounds like a long time, but I know this summer is going to fly by. We have been here for a week now, but it feels like I just got off the plane. I am so excited for the rest of the program and working at Juniqe this summer. There is still plenty of time, but I know we will back home before we know it.