To say this summer was an amazing experience would be an understatement. I began this journey a little wary about how I would feel about such a big lifestyle change. There were still so many moving parts at the time; I didn’t know what people I would meet, what cultural differences there were, what my internship would be like. However, as I arrived in Prague and began to answer some of those questions, I slowly felt more and more comfortable with this new life I was living in a country over 2,000 miles from my home. I’ve never been great with big changes like this, but I hoped that by being a fast learner I could force myself to adapt to these new surroundings and I think I was able to do that fairly quickly. I won’t say it wasn’t difficult at first because it did take me a good few weeks to figure out where my closest tram stops were and all those confusing public transportation things, but when I did finally learn, I felt comfortable handling it with little help. Especially in the beginning I was able to lean on the new friends I was meeting, the people from my residence hall and my roommates, because these tasks always feel less daunting when you have others helping you figure them out. Things like going to the grocery store and google translating every word on the package just to figure out what it is you are actually buying, feel less frustrating when you’re laughing about it with someone who also understands. After about a month, the normal everyday tasks like grocery store, public transportation, and ordering food felt much more manageable and like I could handle it by myself and with overall less google translate, which seemed like real growth to me.
My internship felt like a huge change as well, but in a much different way. I was lucky enough that my office was English-speaking so I didn’t have to be worried about not understanding what was happening on a daily basis. In that way, it felt like I could have been working in the U.S. because the person I worked most closely with was American and everyone else spoke fluent English. The huge change, however, was in the fact that I was doing my first real internship and working in a professional office. Before this summer I had never worked at a normal “nine to five” company with bosses and lunch breaks, etc. so it was an adjustment even for me to wake up at the same time every day, because at school my class start times vary from day to day. It was a little difficult at first to have to stay and work fairly consistently for eight hours, but after a while you settle into a routine and by the time I left, I was sad to see my hard-working summer go.
Working at my internship was more different than I had previously thought it would be. When I received my placement, the tasks sounded just like what I did at a job I used to have, mostly just social media management, but when I arrived I realized that, while it was partially that, it also had all of these aspects that I had never experienced before. On my third day in the office, we had a full, professional photoshoot with models and different styling and locations throughout the city, which I learned afterwards, occurs every month to create content for their client’s social media. That was not something I had ever experienced at my previous social media job.
Another thing I learned at my internship was how to react quickly to new situations, because we would get a new job or request from the client, Bata, and have to act immediately to come up with a solution. For example, one day we got a new assignment out of the blue to come up with a concept for a series of videos highlighting their new shoe care products and they gave us two weeks to do an abbreviated market research, brief other team members, come up with specific topics for each video and an overall concept/plan for the series. Then we also had to format all this information into a very professional presentation and present our ideas. Two weeks seems like a long time, but it was a very quick turnaround considering how many little pieces there were that had to be polished before the presentation. It was also during a time when a lot of my coworkers were leaving for vacations so there was a lot of waiting for responses from one person in order for myself or someone else to finish what we were doing. That being said, this shoe care project was also really special to me because it was about two weeks in to my internship and it was the first time I had been given an important assignment, which was the market research to decide what the topics of the videos would be. I was definitely nervous while completing the task and I had some help from coworkers but in the end they also allowed me to give that portion of the presentation, which felt like a really big deal to me, that they thought I had done well enough and was responsible enough to present to the client.
I definitely learned a lot about perseverance and hard work this summer. There were many times when I felt bored or that I was able to do a lot more than the task that they had given me, but I learned that sometimes you just need to put that aside and do the work you are supposed to do. When I finished easy tasks quickly, they were impressed that I had done it correctly and efficiently and then my next task was slightly harder and the next was a little harder than that one. I could also apply this learning to the more difficult tasks because the more complicated they got, the more I saw chances to procrastinate or do it sloppily, but I forced myself to rise above those thoughts and create the best final product possible. I will definitely be bringing this beneficial thought-process back to Pitt because I see so many parallels with the effort I put into my own schoolwork. I often know that I have enough time to do the assignment well, but sometimes the shortcuts and procrastination look so tempting, so hopefully this will have helped me to see the benefits to doing a job really well. I feel like I learned a lot about myself, Prague, digital marketing and so much more during this International Internship Program and I am so grateful that I had such a life-altering experience.