With less than two weeks left in China, I am reflecting on my past experiences and the growth I have had as an individual and a professional. The initial reason I decided on embark on this adventure is because I wanted an international experience as a student, but refused to let a summer go by without developing my professional skills through an internship.

My internship with Vandergeeten surpassed any expectations I had, giving me opportunities that I would be unlikely to receive if I were in the states. I was hoping to gain experience and knowledge of the beverage industry, and with the help of mentors who possess extensive backgrounds in the business, I received all that and more. I feel confident about the knowledge I now have regarding the marketing, sales, and distribution for an international beverage company, as well as international business conduct and culture in general. As I mentioned earlier, I have been given more freedom and responsibilities here than any internship I have held in the states. Perhaps it was just because of my company’s culture and the strong relationships I developed, but I do believe that the Chinese view unexperienced corporate workers in a more positive light than Americans do. Specifically, Vandergeeten saw me as an opportunity for fresh, creative ideas, and this was extremely refreshing and exciting for me. My supervisor even mentioned to me that my work was making a direct impact on our business and customers. For example, I developed different beer tasting pallets for one of our clients to host in their bar every week for the rest of summer. Every Wednesday, the menu and tasting notes I created are displayed and given to the bar-goers. After developing these menus, I expected my supervisor to revise parts of it, as I do not have strong experience in determining which beers pair well with which. But to my surprise, she was impressed with my work and sent it off to our bar manager right away…something that I do not see happening in the United States. Additionally, last week one of our brand managers approached me and asked that I create a client presentation for a new craft beer we carry. Today, three men in suits walked into our conference room and I watched as our brand manager displayed and presented my work to them on the big screen. I am able to see the immediate impacts of my work, and I feel grateful that the company acknowledges my value.

During my time here, I felt most challenged when given with the task of creating promotional event templates to present to our event coordinator. This project was more difficult for me because I am not familiar with the demographic market here, what their interests and expectations are, and what type of events they prefer. This challenged my creative marketing skills, and I was able to learn a great deal about certain demographics in the Beijing region. My biggest accomplishment during my internship actually stemmed from this challenge. A specific event I presented to my supervisors was to do a teacher appreciation event the weekend before school starts at the end of summer, giving those who show a faculty ID certain benefits and discounts for a weekend event. The teaching demographic is huge in Beijing, and many are young and enjoy the entertainment in the Sanlitun area where our bar is located. My supervisor was so excited about the plans I laid out and presented it to the rest of our marketing team. Vandergeeten will be implementing my Back 2 School Bar Bash idea at the end of August and I am ecstatic I was able to contribute this to the company.

I cannot name one best moment of my internship thus far, as there have been endless times where I just step back and smile at the moment I am present in. As I’ve said before, I love people, and developing relationships with diverse individuals is my passion. Whether it was going out to lunch with coworkers or just chatting in the office, I have gotten a glimpse into the Chinese life and culture. I laugh and smile so much every day because of all these special moments I have with others. One of my favorites is when my coworker Dylan had his last day of work the previous week. I was so sad to see him leave and left a gift on his desk; a Gator keychain and his favorite candy. He was so excited when he came in and knew immediately it was me who left it for him. He ran across the office to give me a huge hug and said he would never forget me. It is moments like those that make me feel truly blessed to have met these special humans, and for all the smiles they have given me.

On the weekends, I spend my time embarking on fun adventures with my class mates or exploring the nearby areas. This past Saturday, four of us ventured three hours out of Beijing for the Longqing Gorge and Dragon Escalator. This park was the most beautiful and peaceful place I have ever been, and by far my favorite adventure of the trip. On Sunday I strolled around our neighborhood. I explored art galleries and new pieces put out by artists, and observed the adorable children running around and young couples having engagement photoshoots. I am always surrounded by beauty and people, and I have begun to feel enlightened in a way. I enjoy my time alone, exploring the city or people watching, because it gives me time to think and take everything in. I feel that this isolation has given me a new perspective on peace and happiness in life. I see two joys in life; to love life and love people. I believe achieving a sense of these two loves combined allows one to embrace the fullness of life and all it has to offer. I have been given the opportunity to see love and life in its purest forms, and I truly feel joy and love in all aspects of my life. In addition to my relationships with loved ones, I now have a relationship with life, and my heart is completely full.

Alex gorgeAlex laughing

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