The decision to come to Romania was a result of 2 main factors: Opportunity and Location. Firstly, I wanted an opportunity to take an internship in Business Development and secondly within Europe. Romania showed up as the perfect intersection of these two at the time of my application through AIESEC and so I jumped at it!
Growing up in Nigeria for the most part of my life, it had always been my desire to explore other cultures, and see life through the eyes of different people. I have always believed that our beliefs and values are formed as a result of our environment, exposure and surrounding and it is my desire to experience the differences in the ways of life of people from place to place. This journey started for me with taking a joint masters degree that allowed me to study in UK and Germany, so coming to Romania was first and foremost a continuation of this curiosity as well as make some career moves in the direction of my goals. Generally, I believe an internship serves as a way to explore your passion and decide if that is really what you want to do. At the end day, the exploration was worth it.
Starting my internship at Around25 was filled with so much excitement of starting something new but also a little bit of anxiety of not knowing what to expect. From experience, I had known that regardless of whatever had been written on the site as the job description, you never really know the depth of what you’re doing until you start the job. But this anxiety was quickly dissolved by the warm reception I received on the first day. Whoa! I really felt appreciated and welcomed into the team. I won’t forget Emilia’s smile at the entrance handing over a welcome pack to me followed with a warm handshake, and everyone in the team introducing themselves. The first day really made me realize I was in a place where I could freely express myself and my opinions would count. This formed the basis on which the rest of my internship was fulfilled.
If there’s one thing I can point out about the culture in the office, it’s the fact that everyone knows what to do and you’re allowed the freedom to be flexible in how you carry out your work. No one is being baby-seated around the office. If things get too warm with work, you can always cool of at the ping pong table, after which you came back refreshed to continue working. This really worked for me on days when I struggled to keep work going, and it also served as an informal way to know many of my colleagues in the office. I made more friends over ping pong than I did by merely sitting at my desk!
Furthermore, the fact that the company cared more about my overall experience rather than just the work I was supposed to do, meant a lot to me.I had these sessions with Silvia about the things I wanted to do during my internship, for example learning Python programming language, learning swimming, experiencing the Romanian culture, etc. To my surprise all these were followed by actionable items to ensure that I could accomplish them. I even spent Christmas with two of my colleagues’ families in their hometown, experiencing more of the Romanian culture. I sang carols, went out with friends and I almost felt I was Romanian already because of the love I was shown and interestingly I still remember some of the carol songs until now. And this was followed by a trip to the Salt mine by Paul and Cosmin, great experience! In the words of Richard Branson, “Clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients” - well I believe this is the reality at Around25.
There’s so much to tell about my experience here that will probably be too long for a blog post, but when I see Around25, I see a company that’s interested in its employees. I see a company that cares about the ideas that we have and not just what they want to do. I see a company that is open, accommodating to new cultures, as I was the only non-Romanian in the office, I didn’t feel it much until someone started to write in Romanian on the group chats lol. Our meetings were very productive and followed by specific tasks to be carried out. The work that had to be done was clear and I got the support I needed in doing them. Part of the learning points for me in this internship had been for example seeing how Paul would rather phrase a line in a pitch I had prepared and it would appeal more to me. Having the opportunity to work with CRM software, being given responsibility from early on to contribute and come up with my own ideas as well as gaining insights into the business development side of a startup stood out to me. I also learned a lot by just talking with Alin for example over lunch on some initiatives he is applying in the business development side of Cleverwash, an in-house startup of Around25.
At the end I can really say this internship was worth it. In addition, going on trips with Aiesec to other cities in Romania, hanging out with other international exchange participants or meeting some friends from Aiesec in a bar and spending time together all formed part of my experience. I am filled with so much gratitude for everyone who has been a part of my experience at Around25, Darius explaining some basic Python functionality to me or Laura for asking if everything was alright when I looked down, all my friends that played ping pong with me, those who would shake hands with everyone before saying goodbye for the day or Alin that took me on my first swimming lesson. These little acts of kindness meant so much to me, and most especially Vlad who hosted me in his apartment for more than two months and made me feel extremely comfortable. For that I’m extremely grateful!
In drawing this to a close, I am not sure what the next years will look like, but I do know that this internship has prepared me for the next phase of my career and in life generally. I will continue with this curiosity and see where it leads me. I hope to work in a position that will allow me to experience more cultures and make more international trips in the future. My desire is to do work that matters and at the same time experience new places. My next role on returning to Germany will be in Consulting and I am hoping to make some useful connections between what I have done here and what I will do there. My Romanian experience will always remain in my heart as one of the places where I have most discovered myself and pushed myself to achieve new goals. Thank you, Romania! Thank you AIESEC! Thank you Around25!
Business Development Intern