During my second week at 5 Star Plus Retail Design, my boss Cecila approached me and said, “Thomas, I need you to create a presentation incorporating research, ideas and concepts regarding UGG (a client we were working for at the time) to be delivered by Barbara to the e-team of UGG here in Beijing.” Initially, I was stoked and eager to be handed my first actual task that did not relate to brushing up on prior projects and information about the company. However, that eagerness and excitement was quickly replaced with fear and self-doubt. After about 5 minutes of being assigned this project, it occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea of how business operates here in China, let alone, if the structure of presentations here in China are conducted to how I was taught. This was a big client and unintentionally sabotaging this opportunity due to being uninformed was my last intention. I had more questions than I did answers and this frightened me. I believe this part of the internship was most challenging for me because I was as some say, “the new kid on the block,” with little experience and minimal direction. However, there was a sense of beauty in not having direction. It gave me freedom. It allowed me to take my ideas and run with them without the limitations and confinements of someone else’s visions. My boss wound up using multiple parts in my presentation into the final version and delivered it to Barbara. Did it go well? We signed the contract with UGG the following day. I like to think it did.
My favorite part of this internship and even this program have been the people. The relationships I have crafted with my colleagues remind me of the relationships I have with my friends back home. That analogy or connection to my friends back home probably does not sound all that wonderful but, I have never been the type of individual to have a lot of friends. I consider friends people I can rely on, who are honest with me and tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. I consider friends people who inspire me. When I am around them, they evoke this urge to want to do more with my life. To work hard and strive to be able to enjoy the finer aspects in life. Mariam, Daniel, Samantha, Genevieve, Zhong Xi, and Cecilia, these are the individual’s I call friends and for me, that is rare feature that does not happen often.
My biggest professional accomplishment during this internship has been getting out of the bed each morning and arriving at the office ready to work. I think we all have days where we would prefer to be in our bed, binge watching Netflix while devouring a bag of cool ranch Doritos or on the beach with the rays of sun glistening over the sand, listening to the tides motion back and forth in an endless cycle. This feeling occurs even more so when you are in a country that you have never been to before and in each direction, are countless adventures, memories and stories waiting to be experienced. Finding the self-determination to remain focus and not become distracted by everything that could be I believe to be my biggest professional achievement.