When I first found out I was leaving for Taipei for an eight-month internship, my friends and family would say, “It will be over before you know it, you’ll be home in no time.” I am near the end now and as I reflect on my past seven months here in Taipei, I can tell you it was not quick. This experience has shifted my paradigm on countless occasions, and just when I thought I understood something about life, Taiwan just threw me something new. VIA Technologies, Inc. has been the catalyst for my insights and lessons. There are things you can only learn in the real world. Group projects at school are great but the real lessons are what you learn working in a professional environment with managers and other employees who have a stake in something real. I was lucky to have amazing managers and people around me who had the patience and wisdom to help me build the foundation of my professional career.
Arriving in Taipei was overwhelming at first. So many people, so many different noises and smells so foreign to me. My olfactory nerves were in constant overdrive because every six steps emitted a new smell, sometimes foul but mostly delicious. Except stinky tofu of course. The unmistakable, nauseating aroma of fermented tofu that hides in the shadows of night markets everywhere. Just waiting for the unsuspecting tourist to stumble into the path of the “acquired” odor beloved by some and “unappreciated” by others. It took me a while to get accustomed to living in Taiwan and setting up a new life here. Luckily, VIA helped me by providing accommodation, and my manager made sure I had everything I needed, or would point me in the right direction when I was lost.
Working in a company for the first time was very interesting. Before this, I never understood how large companies operated. I thought large companies and corporations were scary, immovable and incomprehensible creatures that eat employees and cash for breakfast. However, it was just regular people working together in different departments trying to bring new products to market, making sure the company ran like a well-oiled machine, or as VIA would say, “…a machine with a Qualcomm Embedded Processor with four 2.3GHz Kyro cores, 4GB of LPDDR4, 16GB of eMMC and dual M.2 slots”.
Starting in a new company also required me to embed myself in a new work culture. I wanted to make a good impression so I prepared myself mentally to be open to anything that happened on the first day. I put on my leather shoes, white shirt and slacks. I felt confident walking into the office. In other words, I was ready. As I entered the building, squirming with anticipation, I waited for the elevator to descend from the floors above. I scanned my keycard and with a deep breath and walked through the door. It was now I realized no one speaks English. The International Marketing department consisted of maybe nine people but the whole floor had over forty people. I do not speak any Chinese so the extent of my communication for 7 months was plenty of head nods and smiles. The English-speaking employees were very nice and I enjoyed getting to know them.
My first months at VIA were dedicated to me learning how not to be useless, which was the most difficult part actually. My only understanding of marketing was from my intro class in University, besides that, I was lost. After 7 months, I can almost not believe how much I have learnt about the tech industry, marketing and marketing activities. If you asked me if school prepared me for any real-life work, I would laugh. That is not to say learning about business at school is not important. I value university education and the time it gives students to figure out their life before setting off into the “real world”.
However, this experience has left me with a lesson so profound and inspiring that I will have to share it with everyone when I get back to school. This might come at a bit of a surprise because of how simple and obvious it is. All anxiety about if I was studying in the right major or if I were taking the right classes would have been avoided if school would tell its students, “hey, learn how to read and write very well and you’ll be fine”. The real world does not spoon-feed you what you need to know to get the job done. Reading, learning and thinking critically have been my saving grace in this confusing and daunting marketing world of embedded chipsets and advanced transportation solutions.
It is very difficult to synthesize the past seven months into 800-1000 words. I find it simpler to say it in just one word -necessary. Leaving home and moving abroad was always an attractive dream for me because of the cliché people would say about leaving home. I needed to “find myself” and Taipei has helped me win this game of hide and seek. There has never been any other time in my life where the people, experiences and failures have taught me so much. I want to thank VIA and all the amazing people who made this internship possible.
Written by Adam Pedroso-Costantini, Intern at VIA Technologies, Inc.