Since our profile of Sydney Corliss '15 posted late last year, much has already changed for this recent grad and avid adventurer as she embarks on a career in the international wine industry. We caught up with Corliss via email to find out how her internship with Macro Asia in Hong Kong went and what's next.
Opus Magnum: What was your internship like? What were your responsibilities and what did you learn?
Sydney Corliss: My internship in Hong Kong was challenging, exciting and full of international experience. I learned about the marketing and operations side of wine trading and the distribution hub in Asia. I can now officially call myself an expat.
As a digital marketing intern, I was in charge of all of the social media and event planning on both sides of the business – distribution and the online retail platform. I also was involved with the wine-tastings and event planning with our bar and restaurant accounts and customers. It is hard to put into words what I learned and how - living in a fast-paced environment like Hong Kong that moves a million miles per minute you end up moving fast just to keep up. But I would say that I learned that building relationships and networking is key, especially just starting out in the industry. I’ve continue to grow in my knowledge of wine, new and old world, as well as learning about Australian, New Zealand, Argentinian, French and Italian wines.
OM: What was it like to live in Hong Kong? What's daily life like? What it easy to fit in with the expat community?
SC: Hong Kong, also known as "the concrete jungle," is a city of energy with a mixture of western and Chinese culture. It can seem overcrowded at times as it has more than seven million people living in the city and its outlying islands. But about 70% of Hong Kong is open space, with country parks, hikes and nature, which allows for adventurous public holidays and weekends.
There is a large expat community in Hong Kong that tends to migrate toward central Hong Kong or the Soho area. I take public transportation everyday, which at times can be hard with the taxi drivers because of the language barrier. But simple words in Cantonese such as “thank you”, “stop/here” and “turn right/left” will get you by.
It's been a fairly easy adjustment because the expat community is very friendly and active. My calendar always seems full with work events or activities such as the Hong Kong Golf Open, Rugby Sevens, the Happy Valley Horse races or a weekend trip to Thailand. An active lifestyle has allowed me to keep myself grounded with the hot vinyasa and hatha yoga classes, weekend hiking trips to the rock pools and reservations at the new restaurant in town. There are many new restaurants and bars opening up with healthy lifestyle or Asian fusion themes, which gives Hong Kong more of a western vibe in comparison to most major cities in China. But there are many traditional dim sum restaurants, street vendors and wet and dry markets that keep this vibrant city alive and filled with culture.
OM: The big question is: What's happened since your internship ended? What are you doing now?
SC: About halfway through my internship I was approached with the opportunity to stay on with the company full-time and extend my stay in Hong Kong. So as my internship came to an end, a new contract was drafted and signed.
I was thankful to have some time in between my internship and my job to travel in Southeast Asia and to spend the holidays with my family in the U.S. Now I'm back in Hong Kong (still living out of suitcases) and just signed a new lease for a flat.
My new contract with the company is more involved with sales, marketing, event management and product development. I am excited to see what this year brings and I am proud to call myself a Tommie!