I have had two weeks to reflect on what this trip meant to me and what I gained out of it. Similar to the one blog post where I described when I was sitting in the park reflecting on the first half of my study, I spent the week immediately after getting on the plane in the Berlin Brandenburg Airport at the beach, soaking up the sun and thinking about my time in Berlin. I feel like I grew more personally, academically, and professionally more in this eight week period than any other eight week period that I have had in the past. Having to work through difficult situations in a foreign country would definitely do that, not only within the internship, but also with the activities that I did sight seeing around Berlin. Working for Formly.AI was a unique experience in itself. I have never worked for a start-up company before, and the experience was certainly different than my other work experiences. The company had an idea of what they wanted to provide to the market, but the actual product still needed to be fully realized when I first came in. They had the software, but my manager and the CEO of the company wanted to expand past the main software, but provide FAQ’s, checklists outlining MDR, and other supplementary products. That is the main reason he was looking for an intern. I think I delivered on that request and learned a lot on the way.
Professionally, I came in with the goal to grow my communications skills. I thought that being in a foreign environment would be equivalent to throwing me into the fire in terms of communications. With the combination of the company being a startup along with the people within the company speaking different languages, I thought I could really hone my skills. Some of the experiences that I had with communicating were interesting and very educational. For example, when I would give a presentation during the Friday weekly meetings to the team, I would notice the one German co-worker would start to get a little antsy if my presentation would go a little longer than he expected, probably because he was nervous about missing a meeting that would be happening immediately after that. I picked up on this non-verbal communication cue after the first time or two and worked on my future presentations so that they fit closer into the time scheduled, so I wasn’t making my coworker uncomfortable in any way. I took these lessons outside the professional setting as well, building myself personally as a communicator. I went to a couple of after work meet ups with other local start-up business leaders with my coworkers and I had great conversations with them about not only what our company, Formly.AI does, but also stuff like politics, places we have been, and just general conversation. Even though many of these people were German, the accommodated me and spoke English and I was able to work on delivering in a not traditionally professional setting, like a rooftop bar.
I plan to bring these newfound communication skills to Pitt and beyond in law school and as a lawyer. In my internship last summer, one of my managers had previously worked in Japan for a pharmaceutical company. He told me about the different approach that one has to take when working outside of the United States. Not only the different rules and regulations that come with that, but also how you interact with others is different. He says that he was able to bring that back to the United States when he returned, and he was able to do his job as in-house counsel for a different pharmaceutical company better because of it. Because of his story, I think this program can help me develop similar skills that he developed and brought back to the U.S. to help him succeed.
Overall, I think I could not have had a better study abroad experience in Berlin. I worked hard for a company that I was really interested in the work that they were doing. They even offered to keep me on throughout the school year part time. This was just a sign of how I was valuable to their company, which made me feel great. I had tangible contributions to the company that I saw was helping them. As for outside of work, I saw so many things and have so many stories that I can bring with me into the future to learn from and tell others. So, with that I sign off, though the journey is over the memories are forever.