Learning the Way of the World

Another week done in Berlin. This past week wasn’t as eventful as some previous weeks but nonetheless, it was a great week. In my previous blog, I said I wanted to spend time exploring Friedrichshain, the area I work in, and I made it happen. After work on Tuesday, I checked out a super neat café/bookstore and had a good bagel for the first time in over a month. I eat bagels all the time at home, and I didn’t realize how much I would miss them coming here. In Germany, bagels aren’t common breakfast foods, and the ones at the grocery store are usually underwhelming. I found out that some of the best New York-style bagels are conveniently located within a 20-minute walk from my office, so I decided I had to try some. I went late in the day which isn’t the ideal time for any bakery items, but the bagels were still solid and the satisfied my craving. I plan to check them out in the morning before work sometime in the future so I can get them when they’re fresh. On Wednesday, I found a massive bookstore with an extensive English section. I decided I wanted to start reading during my commute to and from work every day, so I picked up a couple of interesting books. Also on Wednesday, most of our group met up with Britta, our Intrax advisor at a cool spot located in the Tiergarten called Café am Neuen See. It was great to catch up with her after not seeing her for a few weeks. She was interested in hearing about all our internships, and it was cool to share how all our Berlin experiences have been going. On Thursday, I went to a Pitt alumni event generously hosted by Ambassador Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba. Coming to Berlin I had no idea I would have a chance to go to an event like this, and it was amazing to meet Pitt alumni and staff over 4,000 miles away from campus. From airport and random street encounters to the organized alumni event, this trip has opened my eyes to how global the Pitt network really is.

The following day is when things started to slow down. I picked up an illness that sidelined me from most of the activities throughout the weekend. I made it out to the beach on Saturday, but for the first time this trip, most of my weekend was spent sleeping and drinking water. Maybe this was needed because everything has been nonstop since getting here. I’m feeling almost 100 percent today so by Friday I should be healthy for a weekend escape to Budapest. 

I’ve developed many soft skills here that will be extremely useful going forward. Firstly, I feel like I’m finally learning how to network. I remember learning about networking freshman year, but I did very little in real life outside of the classroom. I’ve gotten much more comfortable talking to people in a business setting which I know will prove to be an important career skill. Each night here seems like an opportunity to network, and I’ve made it to the point where I’m comfortable going up to a stranger on the street and talking business. This is a good place to be and I know one day one of these connections will come in handy. I also have become a better problem solver in general. Every day I face challenges I’ve never faced before, and I’ve learned how to overcome them without panicking. 

In terms of hard skills from my internship, I’ve picked up a lot of useful digital marketing skills. SEO is something I’ve spent a lot of time with here and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about it. I took a class that covered SEO, so I knew all the theory, but this internship is my first time putting it into practice. I’ve found that I learn best by doing which is why this internship has cemented the knowledge into my head and helped me build upon the skills I already had. Additionally, I feel like my global competencies have improved which have helped me navigate cross-cultural situations. My internship requires me to work with many different people from different cultures. I communicate virtually with people from Hungary, Germany, and New York, three places with contrasting cultures. I have to adjust how I communicate to effectively work with people from each country. I only expected to learn about communication in the German workplace coming here, so it’s been nice to virtually experience other cultures as well.