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International Internships: The real challenge

Last week, I was sitting in Lateral waiting for friends to join me for some mid-week tapas. Lateral is on the Calle Velazquez, Madrid, which also happens to be near several international schools, including I.E., one of the most famous MBA schools in the world. This means that, more often than not, this bar-restaurant is packed with international students speaking in a variety of interesting accents in both English and Spanish.

As a director dedicated to arranging international internship programmes, I was more interested than ever to observe such a hotpot of internationalism around me. All the foreign students seemed motivated and excited, but I imagined they were also stressed at the challenges of studying abroad. This got me thinking of the Intern Madrid participants and the challenges they face interning abroad.

why internship in Spain

It is understandable that, for those of you thinking about interning abroad, your challenge is applying. Perhaps you’re worried about the language barrier, financial investment or safety aspects related to going abroad or maybe you are unsure about your destination and sector choice. In any case, our fully trained and international Admissions Team can talk you through all your questions and help you make the right decision.

For those of you who have already finished your internship, your challenge is making the most of what you’ve learnt and using it to better your future. I would like to remind you to update your CV, keep practicing your Spanish, stay in touch with us and with your internship employer and start using all the skills you’ve learnt abroad as soon as possible.

For those of you currently interning with us, your challenge is how to make the most of your time abroad so that you not only do an international internship but you also become international.

Without a shadow of a doubt, becoming international is the real challenge.

If you want to do this, then you need to make the most of your time in Madrid. The first step in your journey is to understand what makes a nation tick; to find out what they love, what they hate and how they live.

For example, when you go to intern in Madrid, you will learn that to get things done you need to push for it. Interns are treated as employees who need to work hard and be as involved as possible. A Spanish boss will expect you to be open and honest with them. Do you have an idea that can improve the business? Tell your boss. Perhaps the office environment in your country is different, but in Spain, you are expected to give your ideas, challenge processes, question your colleagues and learn from them. You may or may not get deadlines, so prepare yourself and organize yourself. Learn from the company, work with your team, but be independent. They will appreciate your effort.

At work we often go down and have breakfast all together, we talk about our lives and we get to know our colleagues so work becomes a second home. We have lunch together, we stop to have a coffee and we make jokes in the meeting rooms. We try to be serious, but we’re Spanish so we also try to make everything more relaxed. We’re interested in foreigners and expanding internationally, so we know we can also learn from you. Intern in Madrid and it will be mutually beneficial to both you and your company.

Living in Madrid you will quickly see that we are open and friendly people, but it is common for foreigners to say we are also loud and opinionated! Thats ok, you are in our country and it’s now your turn to pick up our way of being, so jump in and give us your opinion! We give two kisses when we meet you, don’t be shy! We stare a lot at everyone and everything, We stand close to each other and squeeze each other to show affection. We like everyone to eat as much as possible, dance as much as possible and be on a constant search for fun. We want to work and play and we want to be with friends. If foreigners join in then we welcome them and make sure they have fun with us! So be open-minded and live our Spanish lifestyle.

In short, Internationalism, when you break it down, really means being able to live and work with people of different nationalities and that starts by understanding each one individually.

If you learn to do that with Spaniards through your international internship with Intern Madrid, the experience you have had and your new appreciation for cultural diversity will enable you to adapt better to any new culture. Then you will understand the true meaning of being international.

Photos and blog by Thalassa de Burgh-Milne

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!