My Temporary Transformation from Georgia Girl to Startup Intern



“Sure, sure.” This line is enough to represent the business capital of Asia. It has been exactly a week since I started my internship in Science Park, Hong Kong and from day one I learned the importance of getting straight to the point. My boss is a respected women in her field and at 23 started her own successful startup company. Four years later, the company has locations in three different countries and is continually growing. Back home, especially in Georgia, small talk and getting off topic is common. But here at work, if you’re not concise and you don’t make your point quickly, your words will be interrupted with a quick “Sure, sure.”

I later discovered that some of my other intern friends in Hong Kong working for busy bosses said the same thing. Time is money, and especially for a startup company, there is no minute to waste as investors are expecting results and profit. To be clear, I was not offended by her “Sure, sure”. Perhaps in Georgia I might have been, but here in a city of immense growth, business, and money, the culture is different and so I have to teach myself to adapt.

Science Park in Tai Po, Hong Kong, home to over 670 companies

Last Monday, on my first day of work, I was a nervous, rambling, clumsy University student with chipped pink nail polish and confused eyes. The days following, I came home from work at 8:30 p.m. and then proceeded to stay up past midnight researching the company, my boss, my boss’s boss, and all dimensions of my project. I also scrubbed my nail polish off with the alcohol from my hand sanitizer. I even tried to teach myself how to walk and speak with confidence even if I felt nervous and lost. To be fair, I still am and will always be the silly girl from Georgia, but I have decided to play the role of a professional, confident, and hard working engineering intern for the next 8 weeks and see where it takes me.

Already, I have benefitted. On Thursday, my boss told me that the following Monday I would be presenting my week’s worth of research to her and her boss. The weekend following, I took my work home with me, and while I still enjoyed Hong Kong’s night life, beaches, hikes, and fishing village during those days off, I stayed up late everyday finishing and perfecting my presentation. When Monday came, after I finished presenting, they gave me constructive criticism but also a “Good job”. I never felt so proud and relieved.

A Saturday morning trip to Dragon’s Back hike, leading straight to Big Wave Bay Beach

My first week interning was an interesting one indeed. While I don’t intend to lose my roots or alter my values, I still want to temporarily absorb myself in Science Park’s startup culture and to see for myself if this idealized world is all its cracked up to be (i.e. Silicon Valley). Meanwhile, I will continue exerting 110% into this internship, while also enjoying myself in this beautiful city.  In fact, the other interns had to remind me to “Have fun and explore Hong Kong.” Surely, I will be doing just that.