Zac Vierra – Co-Editor-in-Chief
At the age of 23, senior entrepreneurship major Sam Awezec could already be considered a world traveler. He has been to 20 countries and his list of adventures includes studying abroad in Rome, spending a month backpacking across Europe, and visiting China over spring break.
When Awezec had a chance spend winter break working for a company in India, he jumped at the opportunity. What Awezec didn’t know was that his experience wouldn’t be an ordinary college internship, it would be an example of Connected Learning at its finest.
In the fall of 2012, Awezec took a class called “Managing the Growing Company” with Professor Loredana Padurean. The class involved examining case studies to determine issues with companies in various industries.
One of the companies that Awezec learned about in the class was Metropoli Fashions, a company that manufactures leather products such as wallets, purses, and handbags in Calcutta, India.
“I became very interested in that company and by speaking with my professor and with further contact with the CEO of Metropoli, I was able to get the opportunity to go to India to launch their new company,” said Awezec.
In mid-December, Awezec boarded a flight at Logan Airport. Two layovers and almost 24 hours later, he arrived in Calcutta.
Soon it was time for Awezec to be put to work. His task was to help Metropoli come up with a strategy for its new company, Torero.
At 9:30 a.m. a driver would pick up Awezec at his hotel and bring him to the Metropoli offices. When he got there the door would be opened for him and the secretaries would bow to him upon entry. A servant would bring him coffee, just the way he liked it, the second he arrived in his office. Awezec learned that the caste system was still quite normal in India.
“It was strange but it was also very nice. I had a bell and I could get a cup of coffee or a sandwich or anything under the sun. If I said it, I would get it,” he said.
At work, Awezec would take part in daily meetings with the CEO of Metropoli, Yash Gupta. Awezec worked on sales strategies for Torero and HR guidelines for the company. He worked with an in-house designer to come up with ideas for the Torero website and wrote a sales guide with 10 steps for determining the level of a sale for new employees.
“When I was there, I was not an intern. I was basically an executive. My opinion was highly regarded. I made decisions along with the CEO on hiring and firing people, on what direction the entire company should go and giving other people orders who were in their 30s. I was in a high-level position to effectively build a strategy for a new company,” said Awezec.
The experience was totally different than Awezec’s other times abroad. Instead of learning about the culture of a country as a tourist, he was constantly working 10 hour days, six days a week. On his day off he was preparing strategy for the next week’s work. It wasn’t a vacation, it was a business trip.
But there was some fun involved. Gupta gave Awezec a few days off at the end of his trip so he could go to Nepal. While there, Awezec went bungee jumping and took a plane ride to see Mount Everest. Then he spent a day in Delhi before returning home.
To Awezec, the experience in India was more rewarding than his prior travels because it allowed him to experience true Connected Learning, something he hopes more Lasell students will able to experience.
“I see this experience, next to my degree from Lasell, as the most powerful thing on my resume,” said Awezec. “That I have international work experience and the knowledge I gained from being in such an executive role it is almost invaluable. The ability to manage people and be in a role to help establish a company is not some- thing that you can put a number to. That is a trait that you only get when you experience it.”