This summer we welcomed several interns to different offices within the North and Central America region. In this installment of our "Meet the Interns" series, Rosa Zavala Castillo shares her experience working in Medellin at YKK Colombia S.A.S.
Tell us about your experience working in Colombia.
My internship at YKK Colombia has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences I have ever had. I experienced what it is like to work at a multinational company and in a different culture. During my short time there, I worked on the company’s Instagram account. To be able to create relevant posts, I had to learn about the company. I did an extensive research about the company before I left, but I did not understand the product until I was there. I was able to walk through the plant and see how zippers are assembled based on materials and finishes. I saw the attention to detail and quality control each piece goes through. Since then, I have gained a new appreciation for zippers.
Describe the company's corporate culture at YKK Colombia S.A.S.
Based on my experience, the corporate culture at YKK Colombia S.A.S. is collaborative, fast-paced, and friendly. The employees know each other, their roles, and are extremely knowledgeable about the company. Anyone can step in and answer any questions from customers or employees. I interacted the most with the marketing, sales, and customer service teams, and they work very well together. In general, all the departments communicate and get along very well. Communication is essential in this company, and I think it is what makes the team so good. They not only communicate well, but they truly care about each other. There are little things that people at YKK Colombia S.A.S did that made me feel special. They knew my name, asked questions, shared what is going on with their lives, treated me as part of the group, and fed me (that’s the true way to my heart). They shared everything, even if it was a small dessert or a fruit. I met some of the most amazing people during my internship. Everyone made me feel welcome, especially Carolina, Diana, and Wendy. I miss them so much.
How different or similar was the corporate culture compared to your experience working in the U.S.A?
My experience at YKK Colombia was very different from what I am used to here in the U.S. Americans in general are more reserved, and Colombians are super friendly. I learned more about some people in two weeks than I have of people I’ve worked with for 8 years. Colombians have a great relationship among them, and they truly care about each other. They know everyone by name, from the guards to the top executives. Also, I can’t speak for American companies, but at least my job is very flexible. I do not have a set up time or place for lunch. I usually eat at my desk. I enjoyed getting out of the office and sitting with coworkers, watching the news, and talking to each other. That, and the no-phone use made people interact with each other. I have to admit that I felt weird without my phone at first, but I noticed how much I interacted with the people around me since I didn’t have my phone to distract me or help me avoid conversations.
What are some of the takeaways from your experience at YKK Colombia S.A.S?
First, I’ve learned that zippers matter. “Little Parts. Big Difference.” is the perfect slogan for YKK. I have also learned about the Colombian and Latin American markets, about their fashion, culture, and trends. I got to be creative and find ways to solve problems. Additionally, I found that I love marketing research and learning a new field. I had no experience in the fashion industry. I dove in and loved every minute of it. Now, I am OK with stepping out of my comfort zone. Wherever my future might take me, I know I will be OK.
What are some of the skills you have gained from this experience and how will you use them in your professional career?
My research abilities were put to a test. I learned about a new company and culture. Also, I researched similar companies, clients, customers, target audiences, competitors, and trends. I truly enjoyed learning and exploring a new field. My receptiveness was also strengthened. I had to ask many questions and understand the information that was given to me to create what I thought were the best posts. I also got to take initiative about what was needed for the company’s social media. My knowledge of Instagram was greatly improved, and I can’t wait to try some new tricks I’ve learned. My adaptability was also tested. I was in a new environment, and I was able to learn by listening and observing how people behaved. I have gained skills, confidence, and hopefully some good friends. I am trying to be more open and ask more questions at work so my team can have a deeper connection. I do not want to finish this piece without giving a shout out to Carolina Barrientos. Since I started my internship at YKK Colombia, she took me under her wing and patiently taught me most of the things I know about the company and its products. She is a great example of resourcefulness, hard work, and kindness.