Specializing in one sport is common among today’s student athletes. As such, many spend their summers playing in competitive leagues. But soccer player Avika Shah ’15 had other aspirations.
As a member of the women’s soccer team, she needed to maintain her skills. But at the same time, she had landed an internship in the Tokyo office of global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Although a New Jersey native, Shah and her family had moved to Tokyo two years ago. The previous summer, she stayed in the States with her mother and brother, who come back to New Jersey for the break, and interned at McKinsey’s New York City headquarters. This summer, Shah wanted to experience her family’s new home abroad.
One of the world’s most densely populated cities, Tokyo is not known for its outdoor space. “There was a soccer field outside my apartment,” says Shah, “but it was privately owned by a school, and people who were not students could not use it, so that was frustrating.” Additionally, the work environment differs between Japan and the U.S., says Shah, who notes that often people still would be in their offices at midnight. Tasked with working long days and needing an hour and a half to get to the nearest field from her office and apartment, Shah improvised to prepare for the preseason. “I had a gym inside my apartment building that closed at 10 p.m., so if I got off work early enough, I’d do a sprint workout on the treadmill,” she says. “I scheduled stretching appointments with the personal trainers at my gym as well.”
On the weekends, she would explore the city, spend time with her dad, and work out. Fortunately for Shah, she had a handful of weeks to devote to soccer before leaving for Japan, as well as one week after returning before the preseason began. She used the time to work out, play on a field, perform the team’s fitness tests, and do drills, such as bouncing a soccer ball along a wall.
Shah acknowledges that juggling her priorities this summer was challenging. She greatly values what she learned during her internship. “I worked as a summer associate on an internal engagement that studied and analyzed a major Asian economy,” says Shah. “Each team member was provided different work streams to focus on, and that was cool to be individually responsible for a big portion of the study. I learned a lot, mainly about different global economies and how they affect one another on both a small and big scale.”
Although she has visited her family in Tokyo on numerous occasions, Shah felt more like a resident than a tourist for the first time this summer. “Of course, it was obvious I was a foreigner, mainly because I do not know Japanese,” she says. “But exploring the city by myself, with my dad, and with friends made in Tokyo helped me understand the culture more and truly immerse myself.” Coming into the preseason, Shah also knew that she would need to work much harder to prove herself all over again and earn playing time. As of press time, she has played in all of Babson’s games, including seven starts, and helped lead the Beavers to a 10-2-2 record.
“This summer was definitely a test in what I prioritized and how I prioritized in the moment,” says Shah. “It really tests your commitment and points to who you’ve become throughout college. The experience was so beneficial. I would do it all over again.” —Scott Dietz, associate director of athletics