5,270,400 Seconds of Summer: Interning at Vagabond

How is this internship going to be relevant in your field of interest?, they asked. “What does your Bachelor’s degree in Science hold in value to Vagabond?”, they asked again among many other sessions of interrogation. To make things more clear, these were NOT snippets from my interview with Vagabond, rather my inner voices personified and cosplayed by the frequently interacted with social circles in my life. I’d begun preparing for my summer vacation side hustle, by searching for internships on various platforms, since the November of my second-year bachelor’s degree and I was far from finding anything concrete to diversify, not only my nascent CV but also my perspective on the kind of work I wanted to get into in the future. Now, I’ve been following Vagabond ever since their juvenile stages, where I was something of a juvenile myself, 10 years later I came upon an Instagram post from Vagabond’s handle eventually much later into my search for internships, which got my creativity index to work its charm on the boundless possibilities I could build up on in my time at Vagabond. I did not know what to expect and that’s exactly what was needed of me. I was here to learn from scratch and unleash my ideas with their help, experience, and support to back me up. 

15th April, It’s my first day and I have to make it on time so I wake up at 06:30 am to get ready and leave for the office which only opens at 11:00 am. I was punctual and reached just in time—at 09:40 am; early enough to not be late. While I wait outside bathing in my own sweat, there I am conversing with my imposter syndrome wondering how I’d be useful, just when part of the entire jingbang makes it to the office drenched in frustration from the summer heatwaves. In the midst of everyone settling into their desks, we introduce ourselves and get down to work. Step zero to working at Vagabond was understanding all of their products and knowing the business inside out. Being just the first few days, I expected to not get much work to do, but I did make the most of understanding everyone’s niche habitat within our office space in order to align myself with their cogwheels eventually. And so it began, for the next two months straight I’d wake up (later than 06:30 am) and get to work and interact with these beautiful people at the office. Each day a new feeling.

Eventually, I grew into my own person around them and that’s when I began enjoying this workplace even more. From simple introductions and greetings on my first day, we went to discuss little things about our days and lives which became wholesome, meaningful conversations–about things I’d never have imagined having–with anyone at the office of all places. To developing the habit of ‘hooting’ at 4:20 pm or bidding ADIOS! before Shannon could every evening after work; I started to cherish working with them. The best part of it all was the food! If you’ve followed Shannon, Elton, Regina, and Niraj on Instagram; you know they’re all diligent foodies. And me with my bottomless pit of an insatiable digestive system, I seemed to have found recourse under their umbrellas. In fact my first-day impression started off with the three tiffins I brought to the office, stacked with lunch and snacks for the whole day. I’d make promises to share food and then get hungry for lunch and finish it in 5 minutes no matter the quantity. Now, when you match such an appetite to that of Niraj’s, you gotta understand how badly they had to stop me from eating so that they’d get a bite or two from my lunchbox(es). 

Slowly, but gradually all my overthinking drained away and I didnt even feel the need to burn myself out achieving ground-breaking, over-the-top feats anymore. Everything I learnt and did in those two months I began doing out of love and dedication to the task with the idea of watching it burgeon into a flower of unexpected refinement. And I acknowledged that as growth. If ever there was work I needed help with, I got it, no matter how many times I asked for it. Fieldwork, a prominent activity in the career of a wildlife biologist, is the pulse that keeps everything adventurous and unambiguous about the environment at the same time. And as a Vagabond intern, now, who’d sat most of his weeks doing office work, I never would have thought I’d get to do something even remotely close to all the venturesome Experience Manager work.

But the cherry on top during my internship duration was when I got to curate and research on the topic of fireflies from an awareness point of view and be at the helm of sharing this information with a crowd of 60. This activity, that fueled my inner flame to nerd out and show a crowd a perspective that goes beyond seductive butt-flashing and pretty glowing beetles to ecological indicators and healthy environmental shareholders, allowed me to elicit my own version of Sir David Attenborough. I have never felt such a thrill speaking to people (because of our exclusively limited attention span); let alone, with the confidence of a professional (which I am NOT; by a large margin) aiming to bring out interests. Learning to share information on a subject wasn’t all there was to this. The crux of it all—for me—was knowing how to get people interested in a topic that is ‘fireflies’, and adding essence to the awareness factor of it. Because you can’t get people to protect something if they don’t love it in the first place.

Before I knew it, the final few weeks of my internship approached and everyone was dispersed everywhere EM-ing a trip across terrains and countries. And all I had was time to myself to process the two months that did NOT feel like they flew by, but rather a duration that felt gratifying. Would I have known better before diving in? No. There’s no joy in hesitating when it comes to these guys, (trust me). I like to describe it this way– The experience chose vagabond to be its vessel. Although I say my goodbyes to these beautiful people and their work, I don’t feel detached from them at all (except for Shannon I can’t miss him, because if I don’t say it, he will) and would do this all over again to relive that Vagabond Experience. Anyways… ADIOS!

Elijah Almeida

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