How Pitt Prepared Me for Berlin

Before arriving in Berlin I did not know exactly what to expect.  For trips like this I like to do all necessary preliminary research but I prefer to not weigh myself down with too many expectations. Instead, I’d rather take the experiences as they come and appreciate the environment around me.  It did not take me long after moving in to realize that in some ways I was very prepared for this trip and in some ways I was very unprepared. I had studied abroad twice before this. My first trip was to Costa Rica for two weeks.  There I was somewhat familiar with the language and could handle myself pretty well. It was a good opportunity to gain a preliminary exposure to trips abroad. My next trip was a 10 day trip to China where the language and culture are radically different from that in the U.S. This trip was more intense culturally but it was heavily group based making it easy to navigate.  Both of these experiences had prepared me to take on the larger role of living and working in another country for an extended period of time. Since I did not know any German before coming here I expected the language barrier to be a major issue but I was confident that I could handle it thanks to my previous experiences. I quickly discovered that most people in Berlin know english making it very easy to communicate here.  

Other aspects about my time at Pitt have also prepared me to successfully complete this program. The first of which was living in a small room.  This is a minor issue but the hotel rooms that we are staying in are very small and living in a small, shared room freshman year helped me learn how to make myself comfortable in that situation.  Another thing that helped prepare me was my schedule at school. I am very involved in academics, business organizations and work during the school year. During any given semester I balance an 18 credit course load (so that I can complete my degree a year early), my membership in multiple business organizations, and working three to four days per week (to be increased to six days per week in the fall).  This has helped me develop my time management skills which has greatly helped me throughout the course of this internship. Time management has helped me complete each of my professional and academic assignments on time. I have also been able to manage my time so that I am able to travel on certain weekends and see different parts of the city on weeknights and weekends when I stay in Berlin.

There were a few ways that I was not completely prepared for this experience.  The first of which is my professional experience in my field. Until this point I have had no professional experience in marketing or supply chain management.  This meant that this internship would be my first real world experience applying what I had been learning about for years. In this way, I was not completely prepared for what I would find in my job.  I had the knowledge but no applicable experience so no matter, what I was going to have a lot of learning to do during the first few days. This was made worse by the fact that my internship deals heavily in online marketing, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and SEO, all topics I knew almost nothing about.  Therefore, coming into the internship I was not sure what to expect.

I largely overcame this unpreparedness by relying on my studies.  I was also able to complete several learning modules during the first few days of work. After that I had a considerable amount of time to review the companies accounts and familiarize myself with the programs they use to complete their tasks.  All of this prepared me to hit the ground running when I began receiving my assignments.

Everything has worked out very well so far in my internship and in the experience as a whole.  I originally did not want an internship that specialized in online or social media marketing, mostly because of my lack of knowledge in the area.  However, it worked out to my benefit because now I am expanding my knowledge and my marketable skills. I have discovered that it was good to choose an internship that worked on my weaknesses so that I may turn them into strengths and possibly discover fields within marketing that I had not yet considered.