Getting the lay of “The Land”

As my days here in Dublin increase (and my time spent on Google maps decreases), my confidence for navigating the city continues to increase as well. As does my desire to know and discover more of what makes Dublin unique. Along with my rain boots and raincoat, I’m very thankful I brought a genuine curiosity to understand how the values of the people in Ireland as a whole can be seen in every day acts.

My most favorite aspect of interning with Caffe Parigi and FXCH happens to also be one of the most challenging aspects. Every day looks different, which has translated to a multitude of opportunities to learn, as well as minimal consistency and predictability. While it’s been slightly challenging to develop any sort of work routine, I have come to really enjoy the truly dynamic environment and love the opportunity to be exposed to this type of setting. I’ve spent some time comparing my current work environment to work environments I have experienced before. Aldi and Caffe Parigi/FXCH truly lie on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of company size and objectives. What’s interesting is both companies are in environments that incredibly dynamic and unpredictable. My boss from last summer (Louise) would often compare managing a grocery store to extinguishing fires. One has to be on their toes ready for the unexpected that the day will bring, whether that is rotten apples or a lack of staffing. I’ve noticed that one of the apparent differences between the two work experiences is in how these dynamic environments are supported. For every unexpected event that occurred during my time at Aldi, there was a system in place for how to address and handle the situation. My responsibility was merrily to implement it. In my current position, however, there aren’t established systems or protocols. Instead, I have to rely on the limited knowledge I have and the knowledge of my co workers to work to develop a solution.

The significance of humility has been re-emphasized through this experience. It’s important to own up to the fact that I don’t know everything and am in that environment to learn. Although the tasks that have been delegated to me are pretty straight forward, there is an added challenge considering I’m unaware of the larger context of each of the companies and each of the individual projects. Over they years, they have developed systems that are unique and specific. Even with the much steeper learning curve, the work with FXCH has kept my attention a little bit more than my work with Caffe Parigi. My responsibilities with FXCH mainly relate to project management, which implies minimal technical work. This being said, in order to effectively focus on project management and manage the client relationships, it’s important I have an understanding for the bigger picture of the work, which has translated to a lot of outside research. My work with FXCH aligns with my process oriented mind and desire to understand the connection between each step of a process.

I remember writing early on that I was most excited to build relationships with individuals who call Ireland home. Turns out, only one of the six people I work with is originally from Ireland, something I hadn’t expected. The contrast in each of our backgrounds has encouraged such fascinating conversations relating to unique aspects of our country of origin.

Considering no two days at work look the same, I’ve tried to implement a sort of consistency to my days outside of work. The soft routine has allowed me to use my time well, while also remaining open to the natural variability that comes with each and every day. As mentioned before, daily runs have served as opportunities to be outside and rejuvenate, while also explore the neighborhood that surrounds me. This morning involved an early morning run alongside the sunrise (see picture below). I still can’t wrap my head around how long the days are here, with the sun rising close to 4:50am and setting close 10pm.

Spontaneous trips to favorite coffee shops and grocery stores to pick up an oat milk latte or one of their vegan treats have allowed me to foster my passion for understanding Ireland’s food system, inviting a different form of thinking. I’m fascinated by how the contrast in policies and elements in society translate to differences in the ways food is produced and consumed. The food system we experience back in the United States has been of interest to me for a while, and it’s absolutely fascinating to make observations and ask questions about why things are the way they are.

There is a genuine excitement when looking toward the week ahead. Although I love the time to explore on the weekends, I deeply appreciate the wonderful community I’m beginning to develop at work, and am incredibly thankful to be there.