Alex Llodra in front of the Great Wall of China

Gaining Global Experience

Alex Llodra wasn’t sure what to expect when she started an internship at Vandergeeten Trading Co. in Beijing. Feeling uncomfortable at the beginning of her internship while in a foreign culture turned into one of the most beneficial experiences of her life.

“I am always looking for ways to develop myself,” Llodra said. “If you are comfortable, you are not growing. Being immersed in a business environment where you barely speak the language and have to carry out job tasks is a great way [to] get uncomfortable and develop your professional experiences.”

Llodra, a third-year marketing major who starts the Master of International Business combination degree program this fall, worked in the marketing and sales department with the company’s beer products. Without speaking the same language as most of her co-workers, she became an important part of the department while reaching out to restaurants and bars around Beijing to sell the company’s products. She was also given freedom to come up with promotional events to increase market share and profits, and she was even involved in rebranding some of the products.

The highlight of the internship came as she created an idea for an event honoring teachers. Beijing has a large teaching demographic, and Llodra wanted to honor them before the school year began. The event took place after her internship ended and she returned to the United States, but her original idea energized the company and created an exciting new opportunity to build their brand.

The internship also helped shape what Llodra wants to do after graduation. She wants to work her way up to be a brand manager or a district sales manager at an international beverage company.

“I love the beverage industry because a lot of it is networking, hosting or attending events,” Llodra said. “I love people and want to avoid a desk job at all costs. This industry is competitive and high energy. I love the way the products bring people together from all over the world.”

Being a member of The Gator Nation has also been an important part of Llodra’s journey. Since her eyes welled with tears after seeing the inside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during a campus tour, UF was always where she wanted to be. She found her passion in marketing and hasn’t looked back.

“I think Heavener Hall is actually Heaven on Earth,” Llodra said. “You will find the most extraordinary and hardworking individuals in that building on any given day. Being involved in organizations like Florida Leadership Academy has allowed me to form a family in the business school, and I am constantly inspired by them. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals with high aspirations is the best thing I have done for myself. I have gained so much from all of the incredible people I have met.”