- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
I traveled to Ingolstadt, Germany for 5 weeks to work for Media-Saturn for my STEP Signature Project. My team and I were tasked with developing a blueprint for a shop-in-shop model for MediaMarkt stores that would be placed in Tesco grocery stores.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
I learned that I am much more adaptable than I thought before I went on this trip. There were a lot of obstacles that we encountered when we were working on our project for Media-Saturn, when we were trying to adapt to the German culture and language, and when we were traveling to different cities around Europe. I generally like to have a set plan and stick to it but that wasn’t always possible on this trip. I feel like I am now more flexible when plans change and am able to adapt more quickly which will definitely be helpful in the future.
My view of the world changed when I realized how globally aware people in Germany and across Germany are. I think that people in the United States are in their own little bubble and many don’t pay attention to what is going on in the rest of the world. In the US, a lot of people only speak one language and some haven’t even traveled out of the country. In Germany, it was completely different. Almost every student has to learn at least one language, mainly English, and most of the students I met knew at 3 or 4. They are also very well-traveled because Europe isn’t that big and it’s easy to travel from one country to another. I think that makes them better-rounded in terms of knowing what different cultures are like and understanding what is going on in the world.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
There were multiple events on the trip that forced me to be more flexible and adaptable. During the internship, my team and I had to be flexible in order to deliver a product that would be valuable to the company. There were some instances where the company would change its mind and want us to change course or want us to dive deeper into an area that we thought we had already finished. For example, the company wanted to incorporate a treasure hunt concept into the shop-in-shop model but told us when we only had a short time left to work on the project. We had to think fast and be efficient in coming up with our ideas and rationale in order to give them what they asked for. Also, the group had to be very flexible when we were traveling. We would have to be very flexible when were deciding how to get to different cities, whether that meant sleeping on a bus through the night to get to Berlin or waking up at 5am to take a train to Salzburg. While we were site seeing, some places were closed or we were unable to visit them so we had to be flexible and adaptable and find other things to do while we were in different cities. For example, many places in the state of Bavaria are closed on Sundays so while we still wanted to get that cultural experience, we had to adapt and figure out the places that would still be open on Sunday.
My view of the world changed mainly through the people that my group met on our trip. We were paired with German buddies who were super helpful with showing us around the city we were staying in and helping us with the language. But they also gave us a lot of insight into German culture and introduced us to other people in the city. They taught us about what education was like in Germany and how they have to learn all these different languages. We learned that where you go to college and the level of the college you attend is decided very early on and is based on exams. There are three main education tracks in Germany that were designed for people to either have normal jobs (ex. working as a store clerk), jobs where you got to work in an office, and jobs where you managed other people. When we were traveling we also noticed that almost everyone spoke English no matter where we went and there were people from all over Europe. This really showed us the influence that the United States and other English speaking countries have on non-English speaking countries. It was very difficult for people to get a job with these large companies in Europe if they didn’t speak English and many companies hired English teachers to teach their employees how to speak better English.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Being flexible and adaptable is really important in the business world because things are always changing and you need to be ready for anything. I know that this change will help me throughout my college career and beyond.
Traveling to a new country and getting to explore Europe has been such an amazing experience and it’s made me want to go back and travel more. I developed a more global perspective and now I actually pay a lot of attention to what is going on around the world. Living in a different country for an extended period of time was also a good experience because I had to problem solve a lot just to figure out how to read menus, and I had to learn how to communicate with people who didn’t speak the same language as me. I now feel more comfortable traveling to another country that I have never been to and I know that I will be able to find my way around and have a great experience.