Before being accepted for an internship at a chocolate company in the mountains of Costa Rica, I had many thoughts and assumptions as to what my life would be like for my 10 weeks here. I envisioned a life of relaxation and adventure, filled with trips to pristine beaches, hikes in beautiful rainforests and a break from the rainy climate of Oregon in the Fall. After being accepted, however, I began to realize that my trip to Costa Rica would be much different than I anticipated. I would not be near the beach, nor would I be able to spend the entire time exploring the beautiful country. Still, I was not discouraged. I wanted to do something different; challenge myself, understand what I’m made of and realize what path I wanted to take in regard to my future career path. Did I actually understand the obstacles that I would soon face traveling to a Spanish speaking country, as the first IE3 Global intern at this site? No, I really don’t think I had any idea of what I was in for.
Two weeks in, and I feel the need to express that I am extremely happy in my decision to take on this opportunity. With that said, I have not been immune to the side effects of traveling solo and the isolation of moving somewhere without knowing anybody and having few people to initially relate with was tough, at first, as was yearning for the comfortability of my life back in the states. With that being said, however, I have already learned so much that will help me professionally, academically, socially and personally. My time in Costa Rica this far has helped me evolve my comfortability and thrown me into situations in which I must overcome feelings of anxiety or uncertainty and force myself out of my perceived comfort zone. I have done this everyday commuting via two buses in regions in which I am still not yet accustomed to and make friends of people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures. Thus, I believe that my work so far at my host site has been far more valuable than I could have imagined.
Apart from making valuable connections that have made my transition to Central America less lonely, I have absolutely loved the work they have assigned me. My favorite assignment has been learning about the supply chain of the company and drafting a report that has allowed me to evolve my knowledge of the fair-trade market and, quite frankly, inspire me to learn more about companies that are able to have similar effects on their communities, environments and economies. This is what I have spent my work weeks doing so far, and it has seriously boosted my understanding of corporate social responsibility and motivated me to learn more about the importance of economic supply chains. It has far and away been the most interesting assignment I have been tasked with in the world of economics and I am so grateful to be able to have access to whatever I need in order to make the best report for the business, including the direct input, knowledge and expertise from the co-founders. Their passion for sustainability in their approach to business has been infectious and I find myself more motivated than ever to learn as much as I can about their business and the international chocolate industry, which has been a historically cut-throat and shady industry to say the least.
Seriously though, who can have a bad time when you work at a place like this?