After all, overseas internship made me grow up?

[:ja]山崎[:][:en]Hikari[:] [:ja]ひかり[:][:en]Yamazaki[:]

by Hikari Yamazaki

I had spent days I couldn’t feel my personal growth.

Hello, it’s Hikari Yamazaki took a gap year in year 4 and did a long internship at SPA KHMER in Siem Reap, Cambodia. (SPA KHMER is the spa department of kru khmer spreading the appeal of Cambodian local herb)

I think some of you want to do an internship for your own growth or spend meaningful days with personal growth with great enthusiasm.

Of course, during the internship, I spent days with thinking about “want to get skills like this, want to become to do such things”. However, I couldn’t feel my personal growth day in and day out. And I repeated the question “what I want to be? what is personal growth for me?” many times.

In this article, I’ll share “How I became to feel my personal growth during internship” based on my overseas internship experience.

I was in charge of spa management and my daily roles were guest relationship, spa operation management, PR, language training for other staff. My roles were various. Moreover, I had never experienced these jobs before. In the first month of my internship, I felt fun getting new knowledge and involved in the internship with high motivation.

However, gradually, I became to feel impatient that I could not move forward even if I worked hard. I was at the mercy of unexpected things every day like
The unexpected things occurred every day and I was at the mercy of these things (Power outage in a busy time and I became rushed with customer car or staff took an absence without permission and I couldn’t carry out as planned), I tried to do my best but my boss pointed out my achievement was less than she expected. I could passed the first peak season without any trouble so I thought it was success, but my boss thought I was naive about judgement of responsibility and sales and customer satisfaction achievements. I didn’t have any options to satisfy customers other than provided manual. My motivation was dropped easily.

I always looked what I couldn’t do and the lack of skills and I felt a lack of ability every day. I was in a negative cycle.

How I realized my personal growth

3 months after I started my internship, I talked “I don’t find out whether I have grown” with a former intern. Then she told me “you have stayed in Cambodia different from your country’s culture for a long time and you have worked with Cambodian people, so there is no way you don’t grow up”.

Indeed, I did not take time to look back on my learning and growing parts, and I began to think about how I can feel my personal growth.
There are three main methods I actually did.

  1. Regularly revise the list of “what I can’t do right now” which I wrote down at the beginning of the internship
  2. I revised the list what I can’t do not only about my job description but also about spontaneity, communication and so on and visualized “what I could not do before but now I can do it”. The point is writing down including small things in order to be able to feel the increase of what I become to be able to do. And I added “what I want to be able to do” in the list in each case as well.
    I also recorded insights, good points, bad points, and what I should improve from the next day and I looked back this memo as well.

  3. Record good points from customer’s feedback
  4. I had my eye on positive feedbacks not only negative feedbacks from customers. Customers’ feedbacks are honest so I was so happy to feel my growth when a customer praised my guest relationship which I have a feeling of being not good at.

  5. Ask my boss to evaluate me
  6. At the end of my internship, I asked my boss who worked most closely with me to evaluate my current basic business skills and other ability comparing to the initial one. Through this evaluation, I could find my ability growth what I didn’t find by myself.

    Ask my boss to evaluate me

There are other ways suit you, I made what I became to be able to do clear with this 3 ways above and I could feel I grown up.

At the same time, all that I became to be able to do was the result of my effort and I thought “Environment doesn’t change me automatically”. I reaffirmed that it was valuable that I could do an internship in Cambodia and it led me to increase my motivation to act with thinking about “Want to know, Want to develop my capacity, Want to gain skills”.

Change my eyes from the perspective of personal development to that of team development

In the perspective of “capacity building”, I perceived “capacity building” itself. After 45 months from the start of the internship, I knew that my boss hired me with passion through the conversation with her. I was required not only to build my capacity but also be “a force” of the team and I became to want to be a force of the team strongly.

At the time, I was able to do basic tasks. So I changed my perspective from “capacity building” to be able to carry out current tasks to “capacity building” to build team and company’s capacity for the future. For example, even if customers are pleased with the service I have thought to improve customer satisfaction, is I am gone and Cambodian staff can’t keep doing it and the customer satisfaction level has decreased, it is totally meaningless. Cambodian staff need to keep doing it by themselves even if I am gone. I began to involve the internship to build capacity not only myself but also the team.

In this way I found a way to realize my own growth, and sometimes I asked for growth itself and sent my internship days. As a result, I would like to mention “Improvement the power of delivering message” as an example of realizing growth.

Actually I was poor at self-expression. At the beginning of the intern, my boss pointed out “Lack of facial expressions” and “You don’t talk much so I can’t understand what you think”. To improve my power of delivering message, I tried to insist on my idea aggressively and habitualized the frequent report to the boss.

Before, I made an unwarranted assumption that they noticed as well insights and problems which I noticed, and I did not say my opinions to them. But for members of the team, I tried to create a place to send out easily through holding a team meeting regularly to share insights and problems within the team.

As the result, I got an evaluation from my boss that “You become to express yourself and customers are pleased with the conversation with you” and “Because of your frequent report, I could understand spa and staff situations”. I think that I become not to hesitate to tell my opinions as well and times of regretting without saying anything is decreased.

Just joining the internship abroad does not bring your capacity building. If you aim only your own growth, you can’t get improvement. Effort and “Quality × Quantity” of what you do will convert into your own capacity building later.

After I accomplished the internship goal and looked back to the internship days, I felt I had gained improvement myself.

First, set the future ideal image at the end of the internship. It is of course important though, I think that asking “What is growth” myself during internship and working with the consciousness of aiming for what kind of figure for whom brought capacity building as a result.

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