Ayllon Giladi followed his passion for table tennis to pitch and land an internship in sales, product merchandising, and operations at Paddle Palace.
How did you get your internship?
I am a semi-pro table tennis player who recently moved to Portland, Oregon. Naturally, the first thing I did was check out the local scene, knowing that the legendary Paddle Palace club was the nicest in the region. When I went next door to check out the storefront, I immediately thought about how cool it would be to work there. I noticed that they seemed a bit understaffed, so I took a bold first step and asked the employee if he knew if the company was looking to hire. He said he is almost sure that they are and that I should email my resume to the manager. I did exactly that, and found myself interviewing at Paddle Palace the next day, which was the best interview that I ever had.
Why did you choose this internship?
I chose this line of work because I was in search of a very niche type of job. I knew that with my ADHD challenges, I needed to find work that interests and excites me or I wouldn’t succeed. My number one passion is table tennis, so I had been on the lookout for a table tennis based job for a long time, and I was very happy and lucky to discover this opportunity with Paddle Palace.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?
I am a product specialist for a table tennis company. This means that I spend my time on the phones and answering emails about table tennis products and more specialized equipment choices. We help anyone from beginners to experts select their paddles, and we are well known internationally as the go to pro shop for table tennis products. I also help assemble paddles, even though it’s not what I was initially hired for, because I have a lot of experience doing it and have no problem wearing multiple hats at work. This is a fun job that involves high precision gluing and cutting of rubber onto fresh blades (wooden paddles).
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
The real question here is, how has my internship experience not influenced my future?! This dream job has the potential to turn into a long term career, and my managers make sure to let me know that I am on track to having a lucrative career with the company should I choose to stay on for the long haul. My work is so fun that it doesn’t feel like work, and I have some degree of upward mobility, hopefully allowing me to do this work for a long time. I have a ton of faith in the company I represent and envision a future in which I am integral to its growth and prosperity.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for and begin their internship?
My number one advice is to find a field or skill that you are passionate about and pursue it. It may not be the easiest path, but the best things in life take hard work. I believe that if you work in a field that motivates you intrinsically, your overall career and work satisfaction will increase. My other piece of advice is to take stock of oneself and invest in self discovery before diving into your next job.
What was your favorite part of your internship?
My favorite part of my internship by far is the amount of gratitude I receive on a daily basis from our customers. Multiple times a day, towards the end of an equipment consultation with a customer, I hear some variation of this phrase: “Ayllon, I can’t tell you how much you have helped me today, I am so grateful to be able to talk to someone like you to figure this stuff out!” Literally just today, a customer told me that I changed his life forever and that he owes me a huge debt of gratitude. And I’m just a super ping pong nerd, talking about super nerdy ping pong stuff. I am constantly surrounded by my community and having fun, with perfect access to a world class training facility for my own competitive pursuits. This is my ultimate dream job. My goal is to turn this job into a steady long term dream career.
What was the most significant contribution you made?
I have made many contributions in my short time in Paddle Palace, quickly learning new systems and taking on new roles as they arise. My most significant contribution came in the form of my recommendation to hire someone to join my team. My coworker recently quit unexpectedly, leaving management in the unenvious position of trying to find a table tennis expert like myself to help them as a consultant. This is obviously a rare and highly specialized field of expertise, and a difficult hire, and thus, a headache for management. I readily came to the table with several candidates and by the end of the week, the strongest candidate was hired. The new employee is a great addition to the team and everyone is grateful that I recommended him. He also happens to be a close friend of mine and long time training partner, so now, I get to work within a team that I know I can trust.