Verbling

A new friendship thanks to language identity and Verbling

two friends in buenos aires, argentinaIn November, I paired up with this guy, Nicolas Berroeta, on Verbling and told him about my plans to study abroad in Argentina. 8 months later, I found myself, sitting next to him on a roller-coaster(which I normally hate) at an amusement park in Argentina. I couldn’t believe it.

After I mentioned studying in Argentina, he immediately offered to help me practice so I wouldn’t be lost in the lunfardo, or Argentine slang when I arrived here. From then on, we usually spoke once a week via video-chat. I felt extremely thankful that he wanted to prepare me for my time here. As a result, the preparation facilitated the transition from Mexican Spanish to Argentine Spanish and I arrived without any worry in not understanding the Argentine dialect.

A few days after we arrived, Nico traveled from his hometown Tandil(about 4 hours away) to Buenos Aires to stay and show my girlfriend Stacey and I around the city.  I couldn’t believe I was actually meeting him in person after communicating solely through my computer.

He turned to be one of the nicest and most fun guys I’ve ever met. He brought us some Havana alfajores as a welcoming gift and took us to an amusement park in a city called El Tigre where Stacey and I went on the scariest rides of our lives(at least thus far)!

Afterwards, he invited me to visit his hometown Tandil for a few days where I met the nicest people, ate the most delicious meat and had one of the best experiences of my life. He showed me the best hospitality and generosity I could have asked for.

Tandil, Argentina is a very beautiful place

Now, it’s safe to say he is one of my closest friends and I’m certain our friendship won’t end here. I’ll be back in Tandil in less than two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited!

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24 days, 313 emails, 6 trips to Safeway and 1 sailing trip in San Francisco

san francisco, california, verbling

Today, was my last day of my internship at Verbling and tomorrow, I leave San Francisco. I have learned SO much from being here and I want to share my reflection and insights with you in this post. I’ve split it up into two categories to specify what I learned directly from my internship and what I learned from outside my internship:

What I learned from my internship:

 Customer Support is more important than you think technically I learned this from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh but the idea is that customers will always be the most important aspect to your company(in my opinion). It’s important to help them out as much as you can and make sure they’re happy. If you happen to be placed in the customer support sector, learn to enjoy it! It may sound hard but assisting other people find solutions to their problems can make you happy 🙂

Everyone’s opinions are valid- I really loved this part about my team. Even though I wasn’t an engineer or a co-founder, my opinion still mattered and my team members listened to what I had to say. If I had an idea and explained it, people listened. I felt extremely lucky to have the ability to share my thoughts as an intern.

You can work outside of your “field”– I mostly did customer support and social media management but one day, I asked if I could try coding a little bit and I actually got to! It was beginner stuff but at least they gave me the chance to try it out and I enjoyed it! I also had to do research statistics for my boss for a meeting with an investor and that was something I felt inexperienced in. However, I did it to the best of my ability and succeeded with the help other team members!

You won’t always be told what to do- I think this is especially true with startups who are still at an early stage but I imagine this applies to other jobs as well. A lot of the times, I had to find my own projects because everyone else was busy doing their own thing. One project I completed was a press release. I wrote up a press release for the first time and my journalist friend edited it, and I sent it out to a few blogs. I haven’t received any replies yet but it’s now I have an idea of how to write one!

40 hours is A LOT per week-  I felt so relieved when they told me I didn’t have to commit 40 hours a week if I didn’t want to. Working six hours everyday drained me- I can’t even imagine putting in 70 or 80! It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the work but rather some days were long and repetitive and others were exciting and dynamic.

What I learned from living in San Francisco:

Co-living spaces are definitely better than a hotel or regular hostel– living at The Embassy Network was, by far, the best decision I could have made as far as accommodations. It’s hostel/co-living space. I created strong friendships with the permanent residents and met a wide variety of unique people who stayed in the hostel. The community in this house is so welcoming. Every Sunday night around 7pm there is communal dinner where up to 50 people come  to eat and we prepare the food. I can’t wait til I come back to San Francisco and stay here again. Oh, and on the floor below the main floor is a bowling lane 😉

Learn from people- From each person that has lived at or visited The Embassy Network, I have learned something new. Whether it’s about bitcoin, cognitive science, hacking, or decision making, I’ve gained new knowledge that I wouldn’t have if I had been elsewhere. It’s fun and exciting to learn about new subjects or subjects I haven’t studied before. Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest abilities ever 🙂

Strangers may help you- I wasn’t directly helped by a stranger but one guy I met came here from Spain and didn’t know anyone and found a job from talking to a random stranger. He was on his bike, waiting at a red light when he asked the guy next to him how his day was going. After that, they talked and my friend explained his situation and the guy said he knew someone who could help him out. Next thing he knew, a company employed him as a designer. Now designers from amazing companies such as Google and Twitter mentor him and he loves the culture. You never know what can happen- you could put a smile on someone’s face or find a job!

From my parents, to high schools teachers, to professors, to mentors- they all have reminded me of how important it is to reflect on activities and events in our life. I try to practice this exercise with anything that involves learning because it helps me remember what I’ve learned and apply those things to other areas in my life. I hope my reflection and insights have encouraged you to at least visit San Francisco for a week! You can definitely learn a lot! I plan to come back after Argentina and continue learning as much as I can.

Lastly, I want to thank the University of Arizona Honors College for the extremely generous scholarship. This experience would not have happened without that scholarship because San Francisco is WAY too expensive to live here regularly. And, thank you to The Embassy Network for letting me stay for four weeks 🙂

What methods do you use to reflect on different life experiences?

An unexpected conversation on the light rail home

Yesterday, the coolest thing happened on the light rail on my way home from SoMa, the area where I work.

I hopped onto the light rail near AT&T Park and sat down next to the window facing one way, while the train took off the other way. I opened my book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and divided into the world of lean startup production. As my journey in the book continued, more people filled the train at each stop.

Before the second or third stop before my stop, a young man around his early twenties boarded the light rail and ended up next to a lady who was reading a magazine in front of me.

“Hey, so what are you reading?” He said in a half-joking manner and then laughed to himself. I couldn’t keep in my chuckle because she didn’t reply and nobody ever talks to one another on the light rail. I think people think it’s weird or awkward.

He noticed my chuckle and then decided to say, “So what are you reading then?” I didn’t even think twice and immediately started talking to him about The Lean Startup and the travel website that I’m working on with two friends.

He actually seemed interested and even gave me a few suggestions, which I may end up using. I couldn’t help but notice at least four people listening to our conversation-not because it was particularly interesting to them but because we, two strangers, we’re having as semi-in-depth conversation and that wasn’t “normal.” It amazed me because I felt like he was breaking a mini social norm.

We were still talking when the light rail arrived at my stop and unfortunately, I had to get off.

“My name’s Joe by the way.”

“Jake. Nice to meet you, Joe.”

We shook hands and I hopped off the train. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

You’re probably thinking, “It’s really not that big of a deal. There are always random strangers who will strike up a conversation with you.” And you’re right! It wasn’t the first time ever but it was the first time on the light rail in San Francisco.

I’m not 100% sure why I felt so moved after it happened but I still think it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to share it with you guys because of how it made me felt! It also made me realize, “Hey. Why am I not that guy who starts random conversations?”

I think most of us are scared. I know I am. But I want to at least try and change that. I’m not saying everyday I’m going to try and start a conversation with a stranger but I’m going to take advantage of more opportunities like that guy Jake did. He made me laugh and he saw me reading-a puurfect opportunity to start a conversation. You should try it to- at least once. See what happens and let me know! When I try it, I’ll share with you what happens.

Have you ever been approached or talked to by a stranger that made you feel positive afterwards? Feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear about any similar experiences 🙂

P.S- If you’re from AZ, please “like” this page for David Garcia’s campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction: https://www.facebook.com/pages/dg4az/492602880810729

From a cold email to an internship in the heart of San Francisco

My journey with Verbling started almost two years ago when I sent this cold email, hoping to find a job working for this amazing language learning platform. Tomorrow, I set off for California to start my month-long internship with the company next week. I hope this blog post inspires you to let go of the fear of rejection or failure, and pursue a job related to your passions.

Screenshot 2013-05-15 at 11.29.16 PM

 

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I had used the website a few times to practice my Spanish with people from Colombia, Mexico and Peru. I LOVED the idea of Verbling- connecting native speakers with language learners-and I wanted to be a part of the team. Not thinking twice, I quickly wrote up this email and sent it to a jobs link not knowing what exactly would happen. It wasn’t until January of 2012 when I received a response from one of the co-founders. By that time, I had completely forgotten about the email I had sent during the first semester of my last year in high school.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought certainly it was a mistake. One of the co-founders of Verbling, Jake, wanted to Skype with me, an average high school kid?

I replied back with more excitement than a little kid visiting Disneyland for the first time. After I Skyped him, he offered me a job as an administrator on the website. I didn’t sleep for the next two weeks.

Life seemed too good to be true. I felt giddy as can be at the fact that I was getting paid to work with the engineers and speak Spanish and English with people from all over the world. Right then, I knew I had the most awesome job in the world. I became so passionate about language learning and learning about other cultures. I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be and that my desire was to make this company succeed.

After a few months, I hired a few friends from high school, which grew into the administration team that I lead. We were a great team. There were 7 of us and we were fantastic. We made sure the site was working properly and kept the Verbling community safe for all the users.

Then in November, I moved up to start teaching English. I felt so grateful to be given the opportunity to teach. I fell in love with it and it hit me! Whatever I end up doing after I graduate from college, teaching will be involved. It’s such a rewarding experience to teach and inspire students who are thirsty for knowledge. Languages are my passion and my job allows me to earn money for sharing that passion. I feel extremely appreciative.

Tomorrow, I begin a new path in my voyage with such an amazing team-an internship right in the heart of San Francisco at Verbling. I will fly out of Phoenix and into Laguna Niguel to spend a day with my family before heading to San Francisco on Friday. On Monday, I will start my first day working as an intern at Verbling. I cannot explain the joy and excitement built up inside of me to be able to participate in the early stages of a company that will change language-learning education forever.  It wouldn’t even be possible with the generous monetary award I have been granted by the University of Arizona Honors College. After I return from Argentina, I will share my experience with others at the university because I want to give advice and tell stories that will encourage others to embark on similar journeys.

I decided to write this post because most people don’t know how I ended up where I am. They think I got lucky. However, that’s not the case. I took a leap of faith and sent a “cold email,” not knowing where it would lead and here I am- about to embark on a month-long learning experience in San Francisco. This is my story that I have created for myself. Now it’s time for you to create yours. 

O que estou fazendo nessa semana do abril?

Bom dia a todos!

Hoje quer explicar um pouco da minha vida e o que estou fazendo nesse momento. Há quarto coisas en generales que toma a maioria do meu tempo.

Universidade

Estou estudando na universidade de Arizona e tenho meus exames finais muito pronto. Tenho que escrever duas redações para a aula de inglês, uma redação e presentação para a aulda de lingüísticas, uma redação para a aula de espanhol E uma presentação para a aula de português. Parece como muito mas não é. Só tenho que administrar meu tempo bem e fazer as tarefas em ordem dos momentos certos.

Trabalho

Só ensino quinto horas semanalmente. Assim não seja muito tempo durante esse tempo mas quero trabalhar mais depois que terminar esse semestre.

Site de Viagem

Dois amigos e eu estamos fazendo um site de viagem. Nosso site vai ajudar planejar viagems a lugares em todas as partes do mundo! Vai a ter toda a informação para viajar e um servicio para conseguir ajuda pessoal. Se você tem experiência da viagem O quer viajar dentro do ano, por favor diga-me porque estamos entrevistando pessoas!

Verão

Esse verão vai ser ótimo! Vou fazer estágio com Verbling, trabalhar no site de viagem, passar tempo com minha namorada e em julho, ir para Argentina para estudar por o semestre! 😀 Estou muito entusiasmado! Vou continuar escrevendo sobre todo! MAS uma coisinha- não se quando mas um dia esse verão, vou escrever em espanhol em vez de português para praticar meu espanhol. Já estudei espanhol faz 6 anos e finalmente vou estudar em outro país! Vou regressar falando espanhol fluentemente! Por isso, tem que fazê-lo :/

 

Que o mundo tenha um dia òtima!

O primeiro comentário do blog

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Olá gente!

Meu nome é Joe Previte e estou estudando português na universidade.

Quero usar esse blog para praticar meu português e escrever de minha vida. Oxalá que você goste de ler sobre a vida dos estudantes na universidade como eu. Vou tentar escrever uma nova comentária cada quarta-feira.

Algumas coisas sobre mim: estou estudando na universidade para conseguir uma carreira dos estudos generais(Bachelor of General Studies em inglês). Sei falar o espanhol e inglês e gosto dos idiomas. Ensino o inglês em um site ótimo que se chama Verbling. Acessem o site caso queiram aprender um outro idioma. Vou fazer um estágio em San Francisco Bay AreaSan Francisco com Verbling de maio a julho porque em julho vou para a Argentina para meus estudos em na universidade de Belgrano.

Vou escrever mais numa próxima vez mas vai ser um prazer fazer esse blog.

Qué tenha uma noite boa!