Vjeran Pezdirc

RIT Croatia- International Business '19

Work Abroad- Ocean Reef Club in Miami, Florida (Spring 2017)

This time last year, had you asked me where I will be in 3 months, I would have told you: “At home, in Zagreb, where do you think I will be“. Little did I know that I will be applying for a rotational position internship six time zones away from home - Just like everybody else at RIT Croatia, I received an email from Marina Drmač, our career office manager, that briefly stated that an exclusive club/resort in South Florida, one hour away from Miami is looking for an intern who is willing to work full time, for half a year. My first thought was how incredible it sounds and how I would love to take that opportunity, but I have never been in the United States before and I would have to find an accommodation and pay taxes and live on my own across the ocean. I went to talk to Marina and she explained to me how accommodation is provided by the Ocean Reef Club, how she will help me get my visa and go through all the insurance and travelling paperwork with me. Long story short, if I get chosen, I only need to worry about my plane ticket and health insurance.

Without further due, I applied for the internship on the last day of application process. I had to send my resume and a motivational letter and I also added the recommendation letter from the principle of my high school. Next step was an interview with my soon-to-be managers from the accounting department. It was short and sweet. Abram and Susan were easy to talk to and asked me why I would be interested to work in an accounting department and what I know about the Ocean Reef Club. I told them how I am an International Business student and how I believe that no real businessman can be successful without at least basic knowledge in accounting. They asked me what else I am interested in. To be honest, I only remember how I was smiling and how excited I was to be even talking with them. We closed our conversation and I already had a very good feeling about the whole interview process. I felt like I nailed it, I was pretty confident about it. Few weeks have passed and Marina sent me the most beautiful email I have ever received – me and another student (soon to become my roommate and one of my best friends) were chosen! Next thing I know, it is the 2nd of January 2017 and I am boarding a plane to Florida where I will be spending the following 5 and a half months.

Everything about my internship went smoothly and I still don’t have enough words to describe how incredible it was to get such an experience. I can now say that I have worked for a club that is so exclusive, even Barack Obama visited it during his presidency. I worked 2 months in Accounting, 2 weeks in Conference Sales, 2 weeks in Human Resources, 2 weeks in Call Center, 2 weeks in Room Reservations and another month at the Front Desk and I loved every single department. I do have to say that I enjoyed working in Accounting the most because the team was incredible. They were all cheerful and my aforementioned managers Abram and Susan would regularly stop by my desk to ask me how everything was going and if I am improving in accounting. By the end of my accounting experience, I was writing daily revenue reports and payroll reports for all of the club and they even gave me a tie and a cake on the farewell. I have learned so much from each and every department. The only two things that I had troubles accommodating to were the food and the way people communicate, but I have managed to learn how to like their food, drink their coffee and I realized how I will have to get a little louder and more confident about everything I was saying to blend in. I still missed my ‘velika s toplim’ (This is like a phrase in Croatian – when we order coffee. Large coffee with warm milk ) dearly. I also had the most incredible roommate, Lucija Kuvačić, now an RIT alumni and my coop experience would not be the same without her. We did everything together – swam in the Ocean, visited Miami, rode on airboats in the Everglades National Park, visited the southernmost point of the continental USA in Key West, held alligators and snakes... We were living our best student lives. We would work Monday to Friday and then enjoy in everything Florida had to offer and we also hung out with our colleagues even outside of work. Absolutely everything about my internship in Ocean Reef Club was great and I would not change a single thing.

Last but not least, if you who are reading this, are thinking about applying for an internship outside of Croatia, stop thinking about it and do it. You will get a once in a lifetime experience, knowledge about both your profession and about another culture, you will be living somewhere far away from home and even though it might sound scary at first, it is incredibly liberating. And if you choose to go to Florida, don’t even think about carrying a jacket, not even in January.