Today is my first day at Lifemate. I am sharing an office with one of my colleagues who handles finance and human resources here. I was supposed to arrive at 9am but got here about 25 minutes early. I wasn’t sure how long the bus would take/if I would have a hard time finding my way since it was my first time to come here from home. Unfortunately I left my plug adapter at home but my colleague’s looks like it accommodates more than one plug so that is good news. He is very accommodating. I honestly have no idea what I will be doing today but I’m sure that will work itself out soon enough. From my meetings with my director before today I am under the impression that I will be doing some sort of marketing. I think I might end up having to buy a modem? Although my colleague has one and I feel that he is going to possibly let me use it for any information I need to retrieve or work I need to do online. Never mind – he just mentioned that we will have to get me one – meaning Lifemate will let me use one of theirs I suppose.
I will be partnering with another woman who handles international marketing and assisting her with anything she needs done. Her name is Shunem Kabera. I am terrible at spelling people’s names here but luckily hers is on the Lifemate website.
My colleague just handed me my objectives for my three months here. They are broken down into local operations, regional and international operations and operational targets and deliverables.
The list is rather intimidating but I think once I get into the swing of things I will figure stuff out. I am thrilled to hear about online platforms that they subscribe to. Hopefully I will be able to learn more from these and find some more information about the market. So far that is one of my biggest challenges – finding information and resources online both about the company and the market as a whole. I really want to help them as much as I can and I feel that the more I know about the industry and processes the more I can contribute. I am so excited! It has only been an hour but I have already learned so much – its crazy!! I really love it here. I have spent the last hour and a half talking with my colleague about basic company info, processes and challenges. I am supposed to meet with my director shortly though.
My director has actually left for the day – or some period of time at least. He said we will sit down to go over things once he is settled back down in the office though. For now I have been given a modem but unsure as to whether the airtime is by day or data packages I am hesitant to do too much browsing on the web. Instead I decided to tackle the website seeing as this is something I know how to do and it will take up some time. I hope to improve the website and make it more user-friendly as well as give its visitors a better idea of what they do. Right now the content is rather basic and not all that informative. This little project will help me to tap into some of my other objectives and tasks as well as learn more about the company myself. I am already compiling a list of questions I need answered, and I am sure that I am not the only one who has viewed the website and pondered them.
It pleased me greatly when my colleague walked into our office with coffee cups and announced that the traditional noon tea time at Lifemate was indeed ‘coffee time.’ Of course I expected nothing less. My colleague poured me my first cup of freshly brewed Single Estate coffee (produced by Lifemate). I am going to somehow train myself on how to distinguish coffee flavors but for now I will just say that it tastes wonderful. However, I can say that it does not possess the same acidity that bourbon flavors do. After my first cup my colleague wanted to prepare me one with a higher concentration and what kind of intern would I be if I turned him down? I am so pleased to work for this company. The smells and tastes I get to experience are phenomenal.
My colleague told me that during my first few weeks I will have the opportunity to visit farmers, washing stations, roasting stations and today the national coffee board joined the list. These visits will enable me to accurately portray and represent the company while I work with the marketing team. Aside from the professional benefit of these visits I am beyond excited to see first hand the production process of coffee! The internship component of my study abroad definitely makes up for any of its prior downfalls. I cannot wait to start contributing to their business and helping them grow!
I am working on my third cup of coffee and one of my colleagues just brought me a plate of pasha (corn loaf is the best way I know how to describe this) with soup. This alleviates my concerns about when my lunch break would happen. Well I only have a couple of hours left in my work day so I am going to try to finish up my edits for the website. I want to have something to show the boss whenever he returns and I have no idea when he might turn up! So far things look great for my internship and the next three months, I don’t think I could have found a better organization to work with.
One last thing – the heavy rain sounds absolutely amazing on the tin roof on my office building. The drops come straight down so we can keep the windows open while it is storming and it sounds and smells incredible. My office does leak a little though; I guess keeping the windows open can’t last forever, especially once it starts pouring.
I just got to look at my first coffee cupping results. Everyone that works here is very helpful and willing to aid me in learning as much as I can about coffee. One of the guys took a sample out to be cupped earlier today and he let me look at the results. The only acceptable scores start at 6 and go through 9 (so a range of 60-100) and our coffees are generally ranked very high.
My colleague gave me a couple of packets of information to look at and read over to get a feel for what all they do here and to learn more about their involvement in the production process as well as about their end products.
For the last fifteen minutes of my day I sat in my director’s office and watched him make a deal to sell what seems like (at least to my inexperienced self) a ton of coffee. He stayed so calm through the whole thing and afterwards I calculated the amount of money the buyer could potentially end up paying and lets just say it was no pocket change. He said he would hand over some of his clients to me to handle and make sure we maintain relations with them. I am nervous considering I have zero experience in this field – but I have faith in everyone here to mentor me and make sure I feel comfortable. I am definitely more excited than nervous to be marketing coffee internationally. I find it difficult to grasp how truly lucky I am to have this opportunity. I never would have thought that at 20 years old I would be in Rwanda helping a company export one of the worlds most traded commodities.