It’s only been two and a half days since starting my internship with Vandergeeten, but I am already overwhelmed with happiness. Minutes after arriving, my two supervisors sat me down in the conference room and with a smile on their faces said, “Let’s talk about beer!” As bizarre as it seems to some people, I have always been drawn towards the beverage industry, and I came into this program hopeful and in search of a marketing internship with a beer or wine company. It’s safe to say Vandergeeten is giving me just that and so much more.
Vandergeeten is split between their food products (mostly chocolates) and beverage products (mostly imported craft beers) and I was excited to find out I would be placed on the beer side of the firm. I am working on projects under the marketing department as well as organizing and attending promotional events with the sales department. And when I say department, I mean the desk/cubicle groupings at opposite sides of the office. The space is very small for such a large company, but me, being the people-lover that I am, do not mind the closeness at all. I sit right next to my boss and no one in the company has a bigger desk space or office than anyone else; everyone is equal. One thing I was not expecting is that most of the employees do not speak a lick of English. I see this as an opportunity to practice my bad Mandarin skills as I learn more in my weekly class. I hope to develop relationships with the non-English speakers by the end of my term. The environment in all is very, very laid back. To give you an idea, my supervisor wears shorts made from sweat pant material and informed me when I showed up in a professional suit on the first day that I never needed to dress like that again.
Although it’s a casual setting, hard work is abundant and there are times that call for more professional attire and behavior, such as when a client comes in for a beer tasting or when attending an off-site meeting. In three days, I have learned everything there is to know about brewing, serving, selling and distributing beer as well as all the brands we carry and the history, tastes, and personalities behind each brew. I have also made many new friends, and wooed a coworker with my ability to say, “I want a beer” in Chinese. Additionally, I have been added to the company and marketing department group chats, attended a lunch meeting to discuss a client’s (a 19-year old Chinese billionaire) pool party that I will attend with the company, and been creating a portfolio for the sales team with venues where we should try to get one of our brands, an Italian craft beer, to be served. Seeing all this occur in just three days makes me so incredibly excited for the seven weeks ahead. I am hoping to develop my sales skills, attend and network at promotional events around Beijing, and make an impact on the company in some way. I am already doing work that will contribute to the firm in a meaningful way, and that’s a great feeling. The one hour subway commute to work does not phase me, because I am so happy to be immersed in the Chinese business world and be playing this role for an entire summer. All in all, I am just feeling extremely blessed to be here in China and be doing work I thoroughly enjoy with an incredible company.