Volleyball's Lete Recounts Summer Abroad

Sept. 7, 2017

GW volleyball junior Alexis Lete spent her summer abroad in Melbourne, Australia, working an internship for Caitlin Iles, a successful business woman, entrepreneur and venture capitalist.

The experience opened her eyes to the various possibilities for a passionate and goal-oriented young woman looking to make a difference in the world.

Lete took some time to share her experiences in a blog post for GWsports.com

As full time student-athletes, we don’t get the chance to study abroad because of year-round training, but since my summer plans had changed at the last minute, my mom and I tried to find a program with applications still available. We got a hold of one group that said they had availability in Barcelona and Melbourne. I figured everyone goes to Europe during the summer, but how many people do you know go to Australia?

Well its probably because it is winter in Australia during the summer in the United States. Oh, no. Yep, I traded my summer for winter, but the trade off was worth it.

I worked directly with Caitlin Iles, who is a very successful business woman in Australia. She has been effective as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and is an active angel investor. We teamed up with other successful women and brands across the world in preparation to launch a digital brand called Xchange that leverages more women to pursue entrepreneur and business roles.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors figures suggest the number of women being appointed to Australian Security Exchange (ASX) boards each month has dropped by 14 percent from 2016 to 2017. This comes after the Australian government stated that they were trying to increase the amount of women in executive roles to 30 percent by 2018. So, we are actually going backwards. Statistics have shown that female founders in technology businesses produce 35 percent higher return on investment (ROI) and 12 percent higher revenue. They have also been proven to give back 90 percent of their earnings to family and the community. Statistically speaking, an increase of women in business and entrepreneur roles will boost the economy.



This isn't a woman issue, but a human issue. It is 2017 and it's time we stop talking about the issue and start doing something! During my time in Australia, I helped Caitlin create an entrepreneur planner that guides individuals down the long road to success. Originally we had planned to launch Xchange’s social media platforms, but I learned quickly that an entrepreneurial road is not a straight one. Different opportunities and projects came up along the way and we were constantly switching what was going on. We were always busy. In just the second week of my internship I met with businesswomen with ties all over the world, an executive at Microsoft and a book manufacturer, all of whom wanted to participate in the change. I was given the opportunity to experience the hard work and dedication it takes to startup a business or, in our case, a movement.

If the launch goes well and Xchange continues to grow, Cait plans to hit the United States. In this case, I plan to continue my work with Caitlin by connecting with other successful women and men to collaborate in the Xchange outreach. In addition to the hopeful success of Xchange, I have gained a lot of knowledge about being an entrepreneur from creating so much content, and I’ve been brainstorming my own ideas. I love creating videos and taking pictures, so while abroad, I created an adventure blog called livealete.com that takes you through the different things I experience on various adventures and places I travel.

Australia was similar to the U. S., but still a whole new world to me. Instead of thinking of my internship as a nine-to-five thing, I thought of it as a 24-hour internship. Everyday I looked at my hours available and maximized everything I was doing to get the most out of my day. In the morning I would wake up around 6:30 to lift or do cardio for about 45 minutes, take a quick shower, open up my emails on my phone while I had wifi, and then head to work. In order to get to the train station a little less than a mile away, I left at exactly 7:58 every day so I could get to the train by 8:10. Since I opened my phone in my hotel room, I was able to go through all my emails on my 35-minute commute into the city. During my lunch breaks I would call friends from back home or walk around to a new area of town I hadn’t been before and go in and out of the shops.

Instead of leaving work at five everyday, I would leave a little later so I could look up cool places to go and explore throughout Melbourne. This allowed me a guaranteed seat on the public transit, so I could sit and write in my journal about the different adventures I went on each day. The other interns and I would either go straight to an event, get food after work, or meet up in Preston where we were staying to explore from there.

A lot of my adventures happened because I didn’t have cell service. Six weeks without service, folks! How did I survive? Honestly, I really struggled. The amount of times I got lost is more than I can count, but it gave me an excuse to explore a new area I never would have found otherwise. The people in Melbourne were incredibly sympathetic to this young, lost American girl. Whenever I was lost I’d stop and ask the nearest person for help. People would look up directions if they didn’t know them themselves. Some people even let me use their phone. I even made a local friend that drove an hour and a half to pick me up from an airport when my flight back from Sydney came late.

The hurdle really did help me to land a great experience. A new culture, other interns to explore with, a beautiful location, and incredibly friendly natives made my experience one to remember. I went for the internship, but left with so much more. As much as I was helping Caitlin with Xchange, Xchange and my trip in general was helping me become the powerhouse of a young lady I’ve been working my whole life to become.

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