My personal development as an intern at the Hinrich Foundation
The first day of my internship I woke up asking myself if everything was real. At first, I had no idea what to expect from this experience. I wasn’t even sure I could achieve the tasks that they were asking me to do. I felt unconfident and I was afraid to make mistakes.
I quickly learned that the team members of the Hinrich Foundation are there to support you in any situation, if you are willing to try your best. It wasn’t always easy but they were there to help me. Every time I faced difficult challenges, they helped me build up my confidence again. Thanks to them, I learned that I should always trust in my own ability to perform well.
Doing research is challenging, but I enjoyed it! I was very excited when I found out that I would visit the DTI office (Department of Trade Industry) to gather data on the fashion industry in the Philippines.
Michael and I got lost on our way there so we asked for directions. When we finally found the office, we met with Sir Felix Reyes. He’s part of the Export Marketing Bureau and he answered our questions on different subjects, such as export trading, his job and the fashion industry. He later sent us more information by email.
This was a good opportunity to enhance our communication and research skills. It would be easy to find most of this information on the internet but it is difficult to verify its accuracy. Going right at the source is the best way to do good research.
I learned how significant export trade is to all suppliers. The Hinrich Foundation empowers and connects suppliers with potential buyers. I realized that these exchanges promote peace all over the world. I can now share my knowledge about sustainable global trade with my friends and inspire them to work in this field too.
When I was younger, I bought groceries from a street store near my house. I was a little curious and I liked to ask the vendor about their work and how they set up their business. I would even help them sell their products by shouting on the street to attract new clients. These experiences helped me build my confidence in my communication.
On my first supplier visit I went to the Hagonoy Sports International factory in Bulacan and I was asked to help interview workers. I have already conducted interviews before but this was the first time I was going to do so with factory workers. When I met Marisz Dela Cruz I was very excited to learn more about her personal life and her professional experiences. I felt very grateful to have a conversation with her and I learned a lot from our exchanges. Marisz provides for all of her sister college expenses. I am very proud of her.
I also remember our visit to the Leather Collection factory in Las Pinas Metro Manila. I went there with Lycah Baylon, our Export Consultant, and Eric Johnson, Hinrich Foundation’s “Princeton in Asia” Fellow. The factory was pretty small but they produced leather products of great quality and of unique design. They make wallets and different types of bags. It was amazing to see how organized they were and how quickly they moved.
I then asked some workers how long they had been in the factory. Some were new on the team but most of them had been working there for at least five years. The most experienced worker had been there for twenty-five years! They were all very loyal to the company and it felt like a big family.
My last supplier visit was at the Paper Project in Calauan Laguna. I grew up in this area so it was a special visit to me. The women that work at the Paper Project are all survivors of human trafficking and they were hired to create wonderful greeting cards. Each card has a different design and it takes a lot precision and care to cut the abaca paper. The finished product was very clean and beautiful. When we asked the workers about the significance of their work for them, they said that it was the only way to sustainably support their families financially.
I feel blessed and happy to have had the opportunity to experience all of this. I am very thankful to God and to the Hinrich Foundation for my internship and my scholarship. I used to dream about working in an office and I don’t understand why this happened to me. Working for the Hinrich Foundation was a precious thing to me, I have learned many lessons and I feel more confident to face the next challenges. Thank you to all the team members for these unforgettable memories. Thank you for showing me the best practice when I was making mistakes.
I want to end my blog with a quote from Jane Leeves, “I am so blessed to be able to get up in the morning and go to a job I love, with fantastic people around me”.
About the author – HUANG Huiying (Ivy)