This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer. You can read the entire series here.
This final blog in the 2014 series is by Divanna Cedeno, WH ’15
It is safe to say that this past summer was the most enlightening summer of my twenty-one years of life. My experiences cemented my passion for Social Entrepreneurship, as well as worldwide travel; and I was luck enough to have Career Services support my work all the way up in the Andes Mountains.
I can spend hours talking about the intricacies of Huancayo, Peru. About how difficult it was to create a financial literacy curriculum that challenged my adult students in a way that led them to think about business in a way other than just for surviving. About the difficulties of trying to teach people who can be your parents/grandparents. About learning how hard it was to say “No” to people that needed your help, because you understood that you would be giving a man a fish, instead of teaching him to fish. About the constant mission clashes that one faces, when managing/operating a non-profit. About how humbled I was when I faced the same living conditions as other Peruvians. About the negative implications of colonialism, how the Spanish conquest in Peru wiped out the beautifully rich Incan culture. About altitude sickness, and how it makes even the most fit person, have difficulty breathing. About
However, as I was challenging my education through the many trials of Microfinance work, I was also challenging my persona and my “Global Citizenship” status. I took the opportunity to not only work in Peru, but also travel (on a very tight personal budget) all throughout South America once my summer internship was over. I learned many things along the way, most of which my words will not be able to ever fully encapsulate, but for those of you wondering if traveling is the way to go, here’s a list of advice from a girl who decided to backpack Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, after her already very fulfilling summer internship in the social financial center:
Travel alone. (This is my most important one, hence the title. You will learn so much about yourself, the world, and other people if you give yourself the opportunity to make your own decisions in a far away land, also, you will be forced to meet new people if you go alone)
You will meet the most interesting people if you do so. (People from ALL OVER THE WORLD will be your friends, will go out with you, will give you the best networks)
Go on free walking tours. (I travelled on about $5 a day, these walking tours are the best bang for your buck and you learn everything that there is to know about a given place, as they’re usually hosted by university students)
Sleep in hostels. (This goes along with meeting new people, but you will probably share a room with some of the coolest people from all over the world; billionaires, people who have been travelling over 5 years, visionaries, you name it. Your perspective on so many things will start to change for the better. And you get free history lessons with each geographically different person)
Eat things that you may consider strange. (Food is, if I may opinion-ate, the most important part of a given culture, you will understand a place exponentially more if you eat what they eat)
Everyone travels differently. (Some people are more adventurous, others like architecture, food might be big for someone else, thus, if you have your personal quota, travel by yourself and I promise you will find someone that has similar interests)
Let go of daily distractions. (Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or anything else that you used to do that is preventing 100% immersion, let go of it, you’ll thank yourself later)
Learn the language, or at least the basics. (While I am a native Spanish speaker, I still recommend for anyone to learn how to be able to get around, and yes, this sounds elementary, but I know people that never even tried and they spent months in a certain place)
While this is also not an exhaustive list of advice, it is one that hopefully makes you start thinking about what it means to travel humbly, and ultimately, how uplifting that experience can be.
This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.
This blog is by Guthrie Gintzler, SEAS ’16
I set out looking for an internship for the 2014 summer in pursuit of something close to my home in Pittsburgh. When I received the offer to be an engineering intern at LP Amina in Beijing helping to reduce pollution, I knew I had to leave home behind; the opportunity was too tantalizing to pass by. Having never left the United States before, spending ten weeks working in Beijing seemed daunting at first. For one thing, I didn’t know a single word of Mandarin; I learned “nihao,” hello, on the plane ride to Beijing. I was thrilled to have the chance to gain experience in the energy industry on a global scale all while learning a new language through the free Mandarin lessons my company offered.
LP Amina is a multinational environmental engineering firm that researches NOx reduction solutions and retrofits Chinese coal-fired power plants with these solutions. For those not familiar, NOx, the general term for various nitric oxides, is one of the main chemical compounds that contributes to smog. Beijing has such bad smog that the PM 2.5 index used to measure air quality had to be extended from 500 to 800. The smog has been traced to increased lung cancer rates. LP Amina is a small 100 person company with a culture that shouts change and innovation. This made for a perfect environment to learn about clean and sustainable energy while making meaningful contributions in the pollution reduction efforts in my position as an engineering intern.
Although I am a mechanical engineering major at Penn, LP Amina placed me as a structural engineering intern. This proved to be a challenging position for me as there are a surprising number of differences between the two disciplines. Instead of designing the mechanics behind nozzles and burners, my job was to design the structure to support the ducts drafted by the mechanical engineers. My main project at LP Amina was designing a Secondary Overfire Air (SOFA) duct for the Linyi power plant in the Shandong District. My company flew me out to visit the site. There I received a full technical tour of the power plant, collected old blueprints, and climbed two of the boilers to take measurements and determine the best location for the SOFA ducts. While a power plant retrofit project in the US traditionally takes two years, a similar project in fast-paced China only takes two months. This enabled me to play an active role on all structural engineering aspects of the project, from creating an AutoCAD version of the old blueprints to checking the structural integrity of my design to support the SOFA ducts and creating material lists. I learned a few CAD software programs including Staad.Pro, which was all in Chinese, that I used to verify the structural integrity of my and other engineers’ designs.
We focused on International Careers in late October 2012, to help those of you with the travel bug navigate your search to work, intern, volunteer and/or study abroad. To add to these resources, we had alum, Suzanne Garber, contribute to @PennCareerDay. Her career takes her around the world, in fact, she was on assignment in Asia and while she tweeted Sunday, October 28th through Tuesday, October 30th. Learn more about Suzanne by reading her bio below, and remember to follow read her @PennCareerDay feed on Storify to learn about her international career!
Suzanne Garber is the Chief Networking Officer for International SOS bearing global responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of providers within the medical, security and travel networks on which tens of millions of members rely to keep them healthy, safe and secure while abroad. Previously, Garber was COO for the Americas with accountability for the delivery of P&L of the entire region. Her travels have taken her to every continent and over 70 countries.
Prior to joining International SOS, Garber enjoyed a successful career with various operating companies of FedEx, culminating in her role as Managing Director, South America, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Garber is an honors graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in foreign languages and a Master’s degree recipient with honors from the University of Pennsylvania specializing in environmental engineering. Reared in Spain, Mexico, Algeria, Egypt, England, the Dominican Republic and various US states, Garber is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese and is an international expert in the topics of Duty of Care, international assignments, and risk mitigation within globalization.
Before I arrived at Penn in the Fall of 1994, I had to decide on whether I would enroll into Wharton or the College. At that time, I did not have any proof that I knew Chinese (Chinese language classes were rare back then) and had to forego the dual degree Wharton/College program. Everyone I knew told me that the obvious decision would be Wharton but I really wanted the opportunity to find out more about myself at college. Born in Taiwan but raised in Texas, I really wanted to have a better understanding of both eastern and western cultures which was why I decided to major in both Art History and East Asian Studies.
I learned from Professor Nancy Steinhardt that I could submatriculate at the same time and earn a Masters degree by the time I completed my Bachelors. The Fine Arts library granted me my own shelf space since I accumulated such an enormous amount of books for completing both degrees. The ability to read, write, filter and discern vast amounts of information really helped me throughout my career. Most importantly, studying both eastern and western cultures through art and history enabled me to pursue a global marketing career. Each marketing position I took on for either the art, beauty or education industry required me to wear several hats.
Since I double majored and submatriculated at Penn, the extensive demands of those job positions did not overwhelm me. I became more efficient at managing and prioritizing my workload. I also felt more prepared to conduct competitive market research and as well as present findings in a boardroom since I did so much research, writing and presentations at Penn. Furthermore, I had the cross-cultural communication skills that enabled me to work with several different countries and markets at the same time.
Now that I have spent several years marketing products and brands, I am applying my learnings and best practices to help individuals figure out how they can continue to flourish at college or in their career. What matters is not what you majored in during college but what you do with the skill-sets you acquired along the way. Keep learning, nurturing and applying your skills sets!
*Irene Tieh will be contributing to @PennCareerDay on Twitter during our International Careers week (October 17th-21st) to discuss her studies and career in China. Check back next week for Irene’s full bio!