I’m Going on an Adventure! (Virtually)

In the wise words of Bilbo Baggins, “I’m going on an adventure!” Virtually, that is. Hello to everyone reading this blog, I’m Charles Klempay, and this is the beginning of what I hope to be an enlightening portrayal of what exactly a remote global internship looks like, how it helps prepare someone for the “real world” in a way that normal, grounded internships cannot, and perhaps some of my hopes and worries going forward. A little introduction of myself – I’m currently a Junior at Pitt majoring in Global Management and minoring in Chinese. I’ve been fascinated by other cultures ever since I had the opportunity to travel abroad years ago, from Costa Rica, to China, and finally to Germany. I realized just how large the world around me was, as well as how small my perspective truly was. If I wanted to work in a global business environment, I needed experience working with people from other cultures and backgrounds first. Similarly to the hobbit from the Shire, I’m taking on this journey in an environment that I myself, as well as the rest of the world, has never quite known before – the post-Covid-19 world.

            Due to Covid-19, nearly everyone’s work-life balance has been dramatically altered. To say that everyone adjusts to working remotely equally well would be wrong. Remote learning is something that, due to the advent of Covid-19, I had already gotten experience in, as my spring semester was spent with entirely online courses transferred to Pitt from online universities. However, remote work requires specific attention to clear, constant communication, the ability to prioritize your time effectively, and placing yourself in an environment that won’t have you distracted by your electronics, roommates, or other aspects of working from home. I chose CAPA’s remote global internship program partly due to the fact that I would get that experience which, I believe, will be essential to the business environment for the foreseeable future. CAPA’s ability to offer a remote internship with a foreign company appears to be my best opportunity to get experience working internationally, in a new environment, even if said environment is mostly virtual. On top of the opportunity to work with a foreign company in a time where not many opportunities exist, CAPA also offers a 0, 3, or 6 credit course called the “Global Internship Course” that focuses on defining your existing cross-cultural skills and enhancing them, as well as opening your mind up to the myriads of ways people around the globe think, act, and feel. Therefore, what you don’t learn from your internship, you will in the course!

            An international internship, before Covid-19, was not a common route many American college students took. Now, until international borders as well as a vaccine are reestablished and created, it seems as if this opportunity will be even less likely. Part of my decision to explore this area in a time like Covid-19 is precisely because the skills and experiences I’ll have will be invaluable for working abroad in the future, and not as many people will be able to say they have that skillset. I hope to become a better communicator, especially while having to use programs such as Skype, Zoom, or WhatsApp. I also look forward to understanding the differences between how business is done in the states vs. how the rest of the world conducts it. Examples could be something simple, such as the importance of taking a lunch break or finishing your work on time each day, or something serious like the relationship between yourself and your boss, or yourself and your coworkers.

            Academically, CAPA’s program pushes students to seriously focus on their time-management skills. Not only are you working for a minimum of four hours a day, but depending on your location you might have an entirely different time zone. For myself, I will be working with a six-hour time difference between myself and my employer, meaning I’ll have to change the times I go to sleep and wake up to account for when my team is up. This influences the times I work on local classwork as well as how I adjust to essentially “living” in two separate time zones. This type of management is useful for students that have a habit of procrastination or missing deadlines, as it focuses your attention on day-to-day activities and forces you to recognize work that must be done each and every day. Finally, I hope to create a relationship with my employers, coworkers, and classmates, whether that be fellow interns, members of CAPA, or clients I work with, that give me a more global presence as well as increase my ability to work abroad in the future.

            While I doubt my experience will be quite as thrilling as Bilbo’s, I hope that I will grow just as much as he did! Until next time.