A global opportunity to hone career goals

  • July 13, 2018
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 4 minute read

Shannon Saffer, BSBA ’19, participated in the Asia Pacific Internship Program, in which students spend six weeks studying in Sydney, Australia, and participating in a one-week study tour to Japan with company visits. The program concludes with an internship in either Hong Kong, Singapore, or Sydney. Shannon interned at Jimmy Choo in Hong Kong.

Shannon-Saffer-Jimmy-Choo.jpgIt seems strange now to look back and reflect on my time abroad. When I signed up for
the Asia Pacific program, I was simply hoping for a chance to see the world. What I never expected was how much personal growth I would accomplish in the process. Before going abroad, I really had no clue what I wanted to do for my professional career.

I had no set plans or life goals, I just knew that if I was patient enough, I would either figure it all out or let everything work itself out on its own. I chose an internship in retail because it was an industry that interested me and it seemed like a great way to see what the industry was actually like.

I mentioned in my expectations paper that I wanted to see if retail was the industry for me, and ultimately I have decided that while I love the industry, I want to use what I have learned and shift to the tech industry.

One of my most interesting projects at Jimmy Choo was to analyze Korea’s e-commerce space and how luxury competitors are performing in this newer market.

The tech connection to retail

This project helped me understand that what interests me most in retail is how technology is shaping the industry. Ultimately this understanding has allowed me to gain insight into my future goals and career aspirations.

Within the next year, I hope to have moved to San Francisco. I will either work at a tech company, or I will use my retail background to work for a retail company in the area with the hopes of networking my way into the tech industry in some form. I already have two companies in mind and have spoken with the recruiters.

I have already had to articulate my international experience to future employers and typically I have focused on two things: my newfound love for personal challenges and the strengthening of my ability to multitask and prioritize projects. Being abroad has allowed me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I have described how I chose to go to Asia for my abroad program because I knew that the cultures were so different to what I have known. I knew I was going to be challenged and I would become a better person for it. I found this to be true and now I love challenges as they are a great opportunity for personal growth. In a professional setting, this means taking on new, bigger projects and effectively problem solving in unique ways.

Practical introduction to multitasking, prioritizing

My work at Jimmy Choo specifically taught me how to effectively multitask and prioritize my projects accordingly. My days were stuffed with projects and tasks, which forced me to look at the task and determine what was needed immediately, what could wait and, if it could wait, for how long. This intense multitasking also demanded strict organizational skills.

I have never had a problem staying organized as I tend to be meticulous, however, with the running back and forth and constant unloading of tasks, I had to get creative and find ways to remain efficient and still ensure the tasks were correct and on time.

I also previously mentioned my desire to better understand the cultural differences within the workplace. What I had overestimated was how present these differences would actually be. What I found was that my office was pretty similar to the United States but, of course, there were some differences.

The largest regarded communication styles. My teams used email and Whatsapp, and I found emails were very formal and used a lot of “kindly” and “please.” On the other hand, Whatsapp was treated just like texting and much more casual. I don’t feel I got particularly close with my team, however, I was definitely friendly.

I think this is because I sat at a different desk area so that I wasn’t always communicating with my team in a way that went beyond our day-to-day work. While this was unfortunate, I was able to build a foundation of friendship based on the few personal conversations we shared along the way, which was reflected in their responses to my thank you messages.

Ultimately, I absolutely loved my internship and appreciate how lucky I was to have the opportunity to work for Jimmy Choo. I worked on awesome projects and got to attend special events.

I got an inside look at the industry and have even learned how international companies like Jimmy Choo function and collaborate across offices around the world.

While I know not everyone in the program ended up with an internship they were passionate about, I have returned home happy with the knowledge that I am forever changed by my experience.

About the Author

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