A Dream Comes True, "California, Here We Come"
Even while applying for a position in wholesale and international marketing at SMA, I wondered how soon I might have a chance to work abroad. Before long, I got my wish in the form of a ten-week international internship. Far away, under sunny skies, with unlimited sightseeing and shopping- of course I'd love to go to California (although Italy could still have won me over with all the good food and shoes)
Are you asking yourself how I persuaded my training supervisor to actually let me go? With sound arguments, naturally.
The Battle of Red Tape Hill
And then into the whirlwind, the temp agency, my supervisor, her assistant, and an advisor from an exchange organization fought to get documents from the US and back. They finally got a visitor's visa that would allow me to work for a specified period of time at SMA America, LLC. Another apprentice, Anton Bitner, was also going, and we had our own comic-strip-like hoops to jump through (they're funny now, anyway.) We missed our first appointment at the consulate because we had to have the taxi wait at a copy shop while we reprinted a form. When we came back they sent us to get a list of the technical equipment we were bringing, and then they told us our documents would be sent in 7–10 days. Ten days? Our flight was in ten days. And how carefully were they going to check the paperwork? The people at the consulate had so many regulations, you would think we were planning to drop in at the White House. Thankfully everything went fine. We flew to San Francisco on May 27th. Thanks to the time difference, we arrived on the same day instead of on the 28th when we had our hotel rooms reserved (rebook).
The Comfort Factor Rises…
After surviving the long flight, we went by car service directly to our hotel. I was definitely ready for the king-sized bed, although because of the time change I couldn't sleep as long as I wanted to. The first weekend, we got lost on the California roads. We didn't have a GPS but managed to see a lot anyway. Palm trees, huge SUVs, and supermarkets and fast-food chains on every corner. I felt butterflies in my stomach as I began to think about going to the SMA office for the first time. What will the people be like? What department will they put me in? Will I be in the same office as Anton? When we finally arrived at the front desk, they knew we were coming so someone from the office came to meet us right away. It was then I heard the first of about 100 people saying “Hello, I'm …, nice to meet you.” After that, I settled into my cubicle in the marketing office, then went out for Mexican food with my new colleagues. They all made me feel like they wanted to help and I could turn to them whenever I needed to. I kept thinking that the next ten weeks were going to be awesome.