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Adelante Abroad - Internships in Costa Rica
GO: What originally inspired you to intern in Costa Rica with Adelante Abroad?
Estevan: Well, what originally inspired me may not be the most 'inspiring' thing per say; I had to fulfill a graduation requirement to graduate from San Diego State with an International Business Degree, emphasis in Spanish and Latin America/Marketing. I did however always have a desire to want to travel in Latin America; finding this internship (and studying international business) helped me fulfill that desire. I opted to kill two birds with one stone for my graduation requirement by doing my internship abroad for a span of 250 hours. I had never traveled alone, and really went out on a limb by picking Costa Rica, simply because I had always heard good things and because it was winter in South America. I can say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and Costa Rica will always hold a place in my heart.
GO: Describe your day to day activities as an intern in Costa Rica.
Estevan: My day to day activities as an intern included a lot of typical intern duties; answering phones, doing market research online, greeting customers, learning and stocking products, and aiding in the delivery of products. One of the more important aspects of the internship for me was the language, none of my co-workers spoke English (except the owner) very well and so the entire experience was in Spanish. I went from having extremely rusty Spanish (I was raised speaking it but seldom used it outside the house) to returning to near fluency in a matter of weeks. One of the great things about the internship is that my boss understood that I was not only there to learn but also to have fun, so he was very lenient and would allow me to make my own schedule. One thing I really loved to do was to deliver orders with the driver/logistics guy Don Minor. I got to see how they had their own distribution system and how they interacted with customers, all while getting to see almost all of San Jose (and even a few neighboring cities). I also accompanied my boss to customs to see how he imported products and how the process worked.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Estevan: How has this impacted my future? This experience has greatly impacted my future; I fulfilled my graduation requirement and graduated with a BA in International Business which is the first step to establishing a career in the real world. This internship is also something that stands out on my resume and may have given me that edge over my peers; I believe that it helped me land a job immediately after graduation and has opened the door for more opportunities down the line (I am currently working full-time as a manager trainee). I also can assure you that this experience has made the biggest impact on my personal life. I learned so much and grew so much as a person in those 3 months; I left behind a lot of things that were holding back and moved on to bigger and better things. It opened my mind tremendously and made me realize what my priorities in life should be. It also has given me the travel bug and the yearning to continue to travel; I have been to Europe, am currently planning a trip to Thailand, and will be searching for an MBA program that has a minimum of a year study abroad, so I can do it all over again. I made so many new friends (especially my host family and internship family whom I consider like relatives for life), and experienced so many amazing things, I cannot even begin to scratch the surface. If you are considering taking part in such an endeavor, keep an open mind and you will never regret your decision. PURA VIDA!!!!!!!
Esteban has his M.B.A. from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. He is Adelante's Co-Director of Programs in Costa Rica. His main job is to first find the most suitable internship placement for each candidate based on how long they can commit to the program, what their Spanish level is and their skill set / past experiences. Once students arrive, he is in regular contact from his office at the University with each Adelante candidate to ensure a successful and productive experience.
The internship program is a great opportunity for students to travel, broaden their cultural awareness and at the same time obtain relevant work experience in a beautiful tropical country full of fun activities and great sites to visit!
What makes interning in Costa Rica a unique experience for participants?
Esteban: Students are able to apply for unique internship opportunities in several different fields, such as: Social Work, Education, Business, Marketing, Tourism among others, based on their personal interests and skills. Interns experience first-hand the Costa Rican labor environment through real life experiences and relationships. This translates directly to international work experience to highlight on their Resumes.
What can you tell us about the workplace culture in Costa Rica?
Esteban: Interns should be flexible in regards to schedules and workloads. Also they should be proactive when it comes to interacting with their supervisor and suggesting new methods and techniques of completing tasks.
What level of Spanish proficiency should interns have when considering this internship?
Esteban: Intermediate to Advanced Spanish is required for all positions in Costa Rica. Prior experience is desirable but not required. The Adelante Intern in Costa Rica program provides a 3 - 4 week university level course module of Intensive Spanish language, 40 hours per week, to get students up to a strong intermediate or higher level. All students will take this intensive Spanish course at Veritas prior to beginning the internship.
What are some extra-curricular activities participants enjoy while interning in Costa Rica?
Esteban: Some examples of Extracurricular activities that are included in the program are: Tropical Dance Classes, Sports Program, Costa Rican Typical Cooking classes, Yoga, Self Defense Program. There is also an excursion packet included in all programs with full weekend and day trips to places like Tamarindo Beach, Poas Volcano & La Paz Waterfall & Arenal HotSprings to name a few.
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Costa Rica
Esteban: Be open and ready for new experiences, relationships and work structures.
Anything else you would like to share?
Esteban: Interns can receive credit for this program! The intensive course, plus the internship hours, guided by weekly meetings and a daily blog / journal, mean signed sealed transcripts are available upon successful completion of the Intern in Costa Rica program.
What were you doing in 1999? That is when Adelante Abroad sent its first candidate to Madrid, Spain, to do an International Internship Program there. She participated in a 6 month program, in a graphic design internship with a mid-sized company and lived, at first, on her own in a great little downtown apartment. By the following month we sent over two more candidates and have never looked back.
Internship, Semester & Summer Study, Teach and Volunteer Abroad programs define our menu of offerings and expertise now. Yes, you have your own room in a central, shared apartment, but meals are typically not included because we want you to grocery shop in your new country. Yes, we have staff on site full time but do they call you every day to check in? Nope. They are there if you need them but are trained to give you space to bump into things, make mistakes and finally find, on your own, how you fit in to your new country & home.