Most people hear the word ‘intern’ and immediately think of mundane paperwork, cubicles, and following strict orders without question from their demanding, impatient boss. However, Keawe Adventures blows every one of these stereotypes out of the water. My first day as an intern with this company consisted learning real life lessons applicable to living and working on a Hawaiian island and exploring Oahu’s North Shore with a client firsthand.
My day began as any day in paradise should, sun bathing on the North Shore’s famous Bonzai Pipeline beach, fresh acai bowl in hand, and a countless surfers providing awe inspiring entertainment as they rode the massive ten foot waves, Makani and his client, right alongside them. As I gazed around me, from the sand in my toes to the sun shining down on me to the waves beckoning me to jump in, I had to keep reminding myself that I was currently gaining internship hours, instead of just enjoying another day in paradise with good company.After about an hour, Makani and the client emerge from the waves, boards in hand, with that typical ‘after a good surf glow’ that you see on surfers after a particularly great session. They were joking and laughing together like old friends, and it astounded me that Makani was getting paid for this. I thought to myself, “If there is anyone that has mastered the piece of advice, ‘Do what you love and you will be successful’, it is this guy right here.”
As I was letting my mind wander, I gazed out into the ocean and at all of the surfers as they gracefully rode each wave with ease. I found myself desperately wishing I had the audacity to even jump in the water, instead of being held back by my incessant nerves. As if Makani was reading my mind, he looks at me, and says firmly, “Alright, your turn, we’re going in the water.” This was not a question, but a matter-of-fact statement. If anything was going to get me to swim in North Shore’s waves during winter, it was a direct order from my boss on my first day as an intern. I quickly jumped up, and said “Ok, just keep me alive!” and ran out into the water before I had enough time to change my mind. I had never come close to swimming in waves as big or as powerful as these, but with Makani’s guidance, I went from being terrified, to determined, to actually enjoying myself and diving under waves with my fear of being tumbled, pulled out by the current, or drowned almost diminished. Makani taught me how to always dive under the waves right before they hit and that the sand is there for you to grab if you must. I learned to never turn my back to a wave, and to most importantly, to stay out of the surfers’ way. Every wave, my fear lessened, as I applied Makani’s advice and dove confidently under each one, grabbed the sand, and listened safely from below as the waves crash down on top of me.
As I emerged from the water twenty minutes later with my throat, eyes and nose stinging from salt water, and about a pound of sand in my hair and bathing suit, I had seldom felt so accomplished. That day marked the beginning of me finally understanding and appreciating the power of the ocean, instead of fearing it. That will forever be the first and I believe, one of the most important lessons I have learned as an intern at Keawe Adventures.
After a few more minutes relaxing on the beach, we decided to head back to the client’s hotel to grab some dinner and catch the sunset. I felt as if I was with a group of friends deciding what do with their night, instead of it being a business/client relationship. It then dawned on me that this is why Makani and his company are so successful. He does not treat his clients as customers, but rather as old friends. It is because of this that his job so enjoyable for him and everyone involved, and keeps the clients comfortable, and wanting to return – which is the key to a successful business.
We pulled up to the Turtle Bay Resort just as the sun was beginning to set and all sat down at the restaurant by the beach, exhausted but fulfilled from the sun and ocean filled day. As the day turned slowly into night, we ate our delicious, well-deserved dinner, reminisced on the day’s adventures, and I could not help but feel like the luckiest intern in the world. I spent my first day surrounded by the real Hawaiian landscape, the ocean, sunshine, great company, and I learned how to keep myself alive amongst the North Shore’s infamous waves. You can’t learn that from a cubicle.