#Internlife: 1500 miles and then some.

photo: questing california

photo: questing california

My family immigrated to America in 1997. We found ourselves setting our sights on Texas. While I’m not a native Texan, I have spent a healthy 18 years in Texas, which at least makes it socially acceptable to call myself a Texan. With that being said, I’m used the 8.25% sales tax, which helped with the transition to an 8.5% sales tax in California.

However, upon receiving my first two paychecks, a part of me died inside. I knew there was a state income tax outside of Texas, but damn California, you’ve done me wrong. But then it hit me, I’m 1500 miles away from home and I wanted to be here.

Growing up in a conservative, Vietnamese and Catholic household, my parents were very protective. They meant well – I don’t blame them for it. This wasn’t the country they grew up in and the concept of trying something new was a mild fear that they held. It didn’t make sense to me how protective they were when I was younger, until I became older.

My first time flying without my family to a different state wasn’t until this past October. I was 21, heading to Philadelphia for the first time. While parents seek to protect their children, I am under the impression that these lessons cannot be put to good use until we’re left out in the open world alone.

Since that first sans family flight back in October, I have flown alone to California and Arizona and damn, I love it. There’s something about putting yourself far away from home that tests your street smarts, common sense and wit. I had one goal this year: travel more, learn a lot and put everything my parents have taught me to good use. This includes pushing my limits and seeing if I can stay true to the morals and values they instilled in me. So far, I have.

I think the majority of what I have gotten out of my internship experience this summer is learning how to be a leader, while earning the trust of associates. Maybe it’s the southern hospitality that has grown on me in the past 18 years or the fact that my parents prepared me for it or both, but developing the trust and support from the associates has been somewhat easier than expected. I’m following momma’s model of, “Be nice, do your job really well and the trust will come.” So far, it’s worked in my favor.

As one gains titles such as “manager” or “supervisor,” there might be a lack of understanding what it means to be on the ground level, doing the direct functions, and being underpaid. My father taught me that no matter how grand your job title sounds, one must remain humble and know one’s roots. My father is the definition of “started from the bottom, now we here,” so it comes as no surprise that this is the greatest lesson he can instill in me.

I guess regardless of where I end up after graduation in the next year, this internship experience has taught me that all because I’m 1500 miles away, doesn’t mean I’m going to forget the basic principles that I will forever hold true.


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