BY PAULA TORRES
To strive for success, one must learn how to become comfortable in the uncomfortable.
Recently, Denison’s own Gabriela Perez ‘20 interned abroad in Singapore, which opened up many different challenges and states of discomfort.
Perez was born and raised in the southwest side of Chicago. She is Mexican-American and a first-generation college student.
As a global commerce and East Asian Studies double major in her junior year, Perez’s interests peaked at the idea of visiting such a financially successful country. What better place to learn about an Southeast Asian country than Singapore itself?
Through the efforts of the Knowlton Center and the Global Commerce Program, she set off abroad to serve as an Account Coordinator Intern for the public relations agency, PR Bespoke. PR Bespoke is a boutique communications agency that specializes in dining, consumer, luxury as well as corporate publicity and manages big brands such as Leica, UNIQLO, Margaret River Gourmet Escape and many more.
Working in a small agency alongside her other three collegues, one Fijian, one Indian and one Singaporean, she initially found herself struggling to assimilate into the intense and hard working environment that is the Singaporean work ethic, embedded in the idea of “getting all the work done.”
“The Singaporean work culture, as well as the ability to adapt to working with individuals that have years in the profession, was something I had to get used to while abroad. In addition, everyone I worked with viewed things differently due to their different ethnicities, beliefs and language,” said Perez.
Along with her experience as the backbone of the team of PR Bespoke, Perez gained a new sense of confidence, better communication skills and a stronger work ethic.
“This experience allowed me to gain knowledge of different cultures and languages. Overall, it shaped me into a more well-rounded person and, as a Mexican-American citizen, taught me that there is more to the world and this amazing field I am interested in,” says Perez. I was able to network and connect with star Michelin chefs and well-known journalists, as well as learn and work with independent women that have been in this field for years.”
While most PR agencies tend to focus their resources on cultivating business casual relationships, Perez often found that her boss was encouraging her to create close relationships with the brands they manage. Located in such a convenient area, Perez had the opportunity to visit some of Singapore’s neighboring countries. Among these countries were Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, where she was able to immerse herself in the vibrant cultures of each and experience life from a new perspective.
As an active student assistant in the Global Commerce Program, Perez encourages students to check out all that the program has to offer. Perez stepped out of her comfort zone, traveled 22 hours and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge that she otherwise wouldn’t have had as much accessibility to if she didn’t have the support of her family and Denison’s faculty.
“Essentially, this experience allowed me to learn about myself and my abilities as I traveled to the other side of the world on my own, without any Denison colleagues. I learned how to live on my own and complete my job tasks to the best of my ability, especially because I would often communicate and interact with our clients,” says Perez.
Perez feels extremely grateful for her time abroad and hopes to return in the future to live and work in Singapore. She overcame many challenges, but in doing so, learned more about herself and interests.
“The fact that I was the only student from Denison was at first it a challenge. However, it allowed me to step out of my comfort-zone by trying new foods and meeting new people. I plan to live in Singapore soon after I graduate from Denison to work for a marketing firm or public relations agency,” said Perez.
Opportunities to work abroad aren’t as far-fetched as you may think. The Knowlton Center and specific academic departments are two of the many resources on campus that can provide students with abroad experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. If you think you may be interested in working off campus, talk to one of your professors or stop by the Knowlton Center to see what opportunities exist.