Last month, we said goodbye to Erin Robinson and Destin Whitehurst, the Deloitte consulting duo who interned at Bodhi Surf for eleven weeks. It was a sad parting; we became very close with them during their stay — yet we were thankful. They taught us a great deal and their background in the professional consulting industry proved to be very helpful for us as entrepreneurs.
From Corporate America…
Before their arrival in Costa Rica, both Erin and Destin had worked nearly three years at one of the largest professional consulting firms in the world. Having worked with Fortune 500 companies all across the United States and Canada, it is safe to say that they have a unique set of skills that not many their age have been able to acquire.
They both worked hard to get where they are: Erin, a prototypical overachiever, has always set her sights high and gone after them with a positive, “go-getter” attitude; Destin, with his strong work ethic and constant desire to learn and see, has done far more than many achieve in a lifetime. Working at Deloitte, they logged very long hours, lived away from home for months at a time, and traveled frequently. Yet both of them are ostensibly passionate about their jobs and look forward to the future: to continuing their educations and to breaking personal barriers to achieve success.
The internship came together when the two colleagues met and started talking about about their mutual desire to get out of their “comfort zone” and shake up their daily routines. Both had been running on high gear for so many years, when they realized they were offered the option to do a work sabbatical prior to starting their MBA programs, they jumped at the opportunity. Through their shared advisor at Deloitte, Erin and Destin were put in touch with our own Travis Bays and thus began the application process to intern with Bodhi Surf School.
… To coastal Costa Rica
I distinctly remember Erin and Destin’s arrival to Bodhi Surf School: a few hours into their time in Costa Rica and they were already acquainted with “Tico time” — their shuttle being delayed several hours for reasons unknown. They dismounted the shuttle in front of Bodhi and I was struck at their very “fancy” attire — Erin had on a long dress and little jacket, Destin a dress shirt and slacks — a far cry from the casual dress code here at Bodhi Surf School (we later learned that they had changed on the ride down to appear presentable/professional). We found out a little about them that night and the very different lifestyle that they were coming from, and I was fascinated by their apparent business expertise and general enthusiasm.
After taking a few days to get settled, they got their bearings and were eager to get down to business. At Bodhi Surf School, all four of the owners are notoriously “busy all the time with a million things”, yet somehow, they managed to corral us all separately and figure out which issues they were going to focus on. Admittedly, it took us a while for all of us to understand just how useful this dynamic duo would end up being, but all the while, they pushed through, sitting us down to talk, and not being dissuaded when we had to reschedule. Throughout their time here, they revealed themselves as incredibly fun, funny, and hardworking individuals, and were able to assist or consult us on a huge range of issues.
A symbiotic relationship
It was fun to watch the pair adjust to the “Pura Vida” way of life, and witness the natural “unwinding” process that occurs when you spend time in a place like Bahia Ballena. I’d love to think that we played a huge part in some life-changing epiphany for Erin and Destin — that we facilitated experiences that got them back to their roots, reforged their connection with nature, and gave them an opportunity to hone in on their true passions. However, I think more than anything, as individuals, we all connected with the two of them on both a personal and professional level, and were given the opportunity to learn from as well as teach these wonderful people. It was, what they call in the natural world, a symbiotic relationship.
Erin wrote an article about her experience — “Why I Traded Boardrooms in NYC for Surfboards in Costa Rica” — which was published in MindBodyGreen. It’s a great and inspiring read, telling this story firsthand — of how a fast-paced-career-driven-20-something from the United States ends up working with a surf school in a rural community in Costa Rica. It serves as a reminder for all of us that, sometimes, getting out of your element and being open to what life presents you with, is just the best thing you can do for yourself, your career, and your future.