By UVA - Darden August 1, 2017 Leave a Comment

The Darden Technology Club (DTC) is one of over 50 student-run clubs and organizations here at Darden. With over 200 members, DTC is dedicated to connecting its members with opportunities at tech companies, providing industry knowledge from thought leaders, offering hands-on skills training, and providing mentorship and recruiting support.

This summer, members of the DTC are hard at work at internships around the globe, and are sharing their intern experiences with us. Over the coming weeks, we will post more stories from other Darden students about their internship experiences. Enjoy!

Kelly Sullivan, ’18: WeissBeerger, Tel Aviv

When I first accepted my offer with Beverage Analytics™ by WeissBeerger to spend the summer in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was of course, excited. I love to travel and the thought of immersing myself in the Israeli culture thrilled me. But on the other hand, I was nervous. I had accepted an offer to work in a country I had never visited, where they spoke a language I didn’t know, for a role that was undefined.

When I received the offer, my company flat out told me, “we’re growing so quickly, we can’t tell you what you’ll be working on in four months.” So, I had a dilemma – was it a risk to accept an internship without knowing the type of work I would be performing? In the end, I took a leap of faith – knowing that no matter what role I ended up in, Darden had prepared me to tackle it head on.

The greatest strength I took from the Darden core is the ability to assess and adapt. The case method challenges you to not just memorize a framework and apply it to a specific, reoccurring problem. Rather, it forces you to assess a complex challenge, use the resources at your disposal, and seek out new information, and think strategically to tailor a solution to address the problem. You learn there is not a one-size-fits-all solution and there is never one right way to do everything.

I was quickly reminded of this lesson in the first week of my internship, when I learned many of the business “norms” I knew from the U.S. did not apply in Israel. Nor did they apply in the diverse markets I was working with – from Korea to Argentina. At my company, e-mail is a last resort. WhatsApp is the go-to to get in touch and get things done. Navigating office politics and using the power of influence and persuasion is deemed inefficient in a culture that emphasizes being direct and to-the-point. They even seem to relish in the sport of (often very loud) debate and encourage you to engage.

This ability to adapt also proved invaluable as I quickly realized that at a rapidly growing start-up, you do not fill one role; you fill many. I constantly rotated around the company, working with coworkers on the data analytics, global operations, customer value creation, and product teams to execute projects that impacted the growth of the company. It was an amazing opportunity to apply skills I had taken from the core to a wide array of challenges – rather than focusing on just one. It was an even greater opportunity to see my work immediately put into action.

If I could leave the rising Darden first years with one piece of advice it would be this: take a risk. We have the unique opportunity to use the summer to do something completely different that we’ve never done before – and may never do again. And if you can work internationally, do it! Working in Israel has made me realize how insulated we are working in the U.S. and how important it is to expand our horizons. So, don’t stress the internship so much. Take the leap of faith knowing that whatever role you end up taking, Darden has prepared you to handle it and it will be an incredible learning experience. I took a risk coming to Tel Aviv this summer, and I’ve never looked back.

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