The IIP:Berlin has been a life-changing experience and has given me the most memorable summer of my life. It has allowed me to grow in my professional and academic abilities, and I have taken away a lot of knowledge that I will be able to apply to my courses within the College of Business Administration. Not only did this program allow me to enhance my understanding within the field of finance, it enabled me to see so many unique parts of the world, such as Croatia and Hungary. I feel so fortunate that at only twenty years old, I have been able to explore the cultures of various countries across Europe. This has equipped me to better appreciate both the similarities and differences between European and American cultures. My time abroad has also increased my desire to stay informed on global – and specifically German – social and political issues. After spending a significant amount of time in Berlin, I have a strong interest in Germany’s culture and economy. By staying informed, I can learn about new legislation or policies that may have an impact on my former coworkers.
Outside of work, I was able to develop close relationships with the other students in the program. I definitely have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime! It was really neat to see how everyone’s internships were different and how everyone was able to grow during their time in Berlin. I feel like most of my personal growth came in the form of increased independence. Even though I have been living on my own at Pitt for the last two years, this program allowed me to explore independent living in a completely new environment, while working within a new schedule. Unlike the class schedules I am used to on campus, my internship schedule mirrors what my work schedule will look like in my future internships and jobs. This format allowed me to develop a consistent routine and practice new habits, but because I was in a new environment I was also constantly faced with unfamiliar situations. This duality has produced a significant improvement in my problem-solving skills. If I ran into problems using a new form of public transportation or while participating in weekend travel, I had to rely on myself and the available resources to establish a solution. I feel much more confident in my ability to handle unexpected situations or to get “back on track” when mishaps arise.
Most importantly, I have gained a lot of knowledge about financial institutions, capital markets, and banking across the world. I know this information will be valuable in my coursework in Pitt Business, and it will most definitely be useful in my future internships. I will have a fuller perspective heading into future internships because I can compare how financial services are organized and managed differently in the U.S. and Europe. I was also able to glean entrepreneurial insight through conversations with the founders of my company. As serial entrepreneurs, they were able to educate me on startup culture and the immense undertaking that is starting a company. Although I have never thought that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I am grateful for the advice and feedback they were able to provide. I really enjoyed working in a startup because it allowed me to see several aspects of the business outside of the finance sector, such as the information technology and legal departments.
In addition to implementing this knowledge into my studies as a finance and accounting major in Pitt Business, I hope I can use my experience to give advice to students who are interested in participating in an International Internship Program (or any study abroad program) in the future. I have experienced notable personal and professional development because of this program, and I want to encourage my peers to seek out this opportunity as well. I hope that stories of my experiences can inspire other students to get involved with one of the many study abroad programs Pitt has to offer.
This summer has felt like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye, but it has been such an incredible adventure! Although I have said “auf weidersehen” to Berlin, the adventures continue as I am currently traveling throughout Europe with my parents and one of my closest friends. I cannot even begin to describe how excited and overwhelmed I am by everything I have learned and by the amazing people I have met. This has truly been an unforgettable summer!