Diana Pelias is an eLumni and founder of Fig. 3 Brew Bar, which creates all-natural fizzy drinks to rival traditional sugary sodas. She and her business partners are currently running several shops in the Philippines selling their tasty products and at the time that she was on the program with eLab, she was interested in learning how to expand her business. She recently sat down with us to discuss her experiences in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program and how that eventually led her to join eLab. To hear more about Diana’s story, read below:
You initially did the CIEE Work & Travel USA program before coming to eLab. What was that experience like?
I worked at the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), as a Participant Services and Seasonal Coordinator for the Philippines in Portland, Maine. My experience as a WAT participant is truly exceptional. Besides learning office administration skills, I have also learned life lessons that I could apply in the real world, such as being independent, taking responsibility for myself, and being open-minded and respectful to other cultures and beliefs.
Through the WAT program, I was able to build friendships and relationships with other participants from all over the world. This helped me learned what similarities and differences I share with people from other nations and that they are to be respected. The program made me want to be more involved in cultural exchange activities, which is something I’m deeply passionate about.
Did the positive experience with Work & Travel USA lead you to look for more opportunities with CIEE?
Definitely! My experiences as a WAT participant made me more relentless in searching for other programs by CIEE. The experiences that I had working for this esteemed organization made me believe that CIEE was probably offering more programs and experiences that would allow me to learn to be more skillful in my life and business.
Is this how you found eLab? If not, how did you find us?
Yes, I found eLab when I was intensively researching for more programs that I could join that would be beneficial for me.
How would you describe your eLab experience?
As expected, my eLab experience was something that I would be proud of. As a university student studying entrepreneurship, and as someone that is very passionate about traveling and cultural appreciation, eLab allowed me to experience and learn so many insights about both aspects.
The entrepreneurial skills, methods, and techniques I learned from eLab helped me to further improve and broaden my mindset as an entrepreneur. It taught me that being an entrepreneur doesn’t end in merely opening and operating a business. It’s a lifelong progressive journey and process. eLab gave me a whole new outlook on being an entrepreneur.
Another thing that I loved about the eLab experience is the networking events that I participated in. Gaining global connections made me more ambitious. It gave me more goals in the business that I currently run, which has made me more relentlessly determined in pursuing globalization.
Lastly, seeing and experiencing the beauty of Berlin is something I will treasure forever.
Was it all worth it?
All the anxiousness, fears, doubts, and questions that I had prior to joining, while applying, and before arriving in America and Germany were all worth it. What I had, what I gained, what I learned, what I experienced, all the friendships that I built, the relationships that I grew, the cultures I was introduced to, the places and the sceneries I saw... it made all of it worth it.
Joining these two programs allowed me to just go for it! Go for life experiences! Because, if there’s one thing I realized in participating in WAT and the eLab program, it is that having regrets and not trying is way scarier than not actually trying something at all.