Back in the US, I have had about 2 or 3 weeks now to reflect back on the incredible experience that was this summer in Germany on this program. Telling stories to my friends and families, I am surprised really by how much growth I did over there. I learned so much, met some incredible people, and developed skills that I will be able to apply to improve not only my professional life but my life in general. I am thankful to have been given this opportunity and the potential it provides.
As I made my way into the program, I knew that I wanted to go into the business world, but didn’t know if I was right for it. I saw the business world, especially in the corporate sector as a dog eat dog world. I really didn’t know if I could survive it, let alone if I even wanted to be able to. What I saw was a whole lot of people hungry for money, and that isn’t why I am here. I want to make an impact. I saw my classmates take initiative and speak with confidence about work they would do in our classes and I always followed their example. Until now though, I never really had much real confidence or respect for the work that I’ve done. I always felt that in some way, what I was doing wasn’t good enough or didn’t matter enough. I would get good grades, but it was hard for me to take pride in my work and see that I really gave it my all. This internship in Germany has really allowed me to see and put value in the work that I do. While working on the Brili team, it was incredible to see the work that we were doing have an actual impact. To receive positive feedback on work that I had put together on my own was extremely validating. Each day I would come into work with newfound energy because I believed the work I did there would have a positive effect on someone’s life. If I could help even one family see the positive impact the Brili app could have on their children’s life and their family as a whole, it was worth it.
This program helped me recognize why I, an environmentalist, an advocate for entrepreneurship, and a generally mild-mannered guy, came to the business world. It isn’t for the money, it isn’t to show the world that I am better, it is to have an impact on the world around me in a positive way. Working in a small start-up setting is difficult, you don’t always know where you should turn next, which project on the growing list of to-dos will have the biggest impact. That kind of uncertainty, exploration, and discovery process is what I thrive on and what I want to build my career around. Creating my own business and working for those that strive to have a larger impact than just quality products or services rendered. I’ve always had snip-its of these ideas in my head, but it never really came together into a bigger picture for me. Now, after going through this program, I believe it has. I feel confident in myself and the knowledge that I have accrued and have set my sights on something bigger.
As I head into my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, I couldn’t feel more prepared for the challenges that graduation and the real world will bring. I see the work that I do and will do in this next year in a completely new light. I can’t wait to hit the ground running when I get back to school, continuing my work at Brili as their Insights and Activation Manager, and looking for other professional opportunities in Pittsburgh while I finish my final year. This trip was definitely the first of many I will take to Germany and other countries of Europe. They haven’t seen the last of me. I am incredibly thankful to the University and its staff for setting this program up for us all and helping it run so smoothly. I am also incredibly grateful for everyone who encouraged me and helped me through the process of applying and going on this trip. I would recommend a study abroad trip to anyone and everyone. I would just say, that whoever you are and whatever your situation if you go into a new experience like this open-minded and ready to learn it is going to be a great time.