Alumni Spotlight: Anna Morris

Anna has California roots but grew up in the Midwest. When not at her desk, you'll find Anna on a weekend road trip or eating where Yelp tells her to. Anna lived and studied in a castle in England, completed a maymester in South Africa, and worked at St. Cloud State University.

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Tell us a little about your experience working with Global Experiences.

I am currently an Account Manager at Go Overseas. Recently, I was able to shadow the Global Experiences program in Barcelona. This interview is a reflection of my experiences during the site visit.

I’ve worked with Global Experiences for the past three years and have met a lot of their stellar employees at various conferences, over Skype calls, etc. The majority of the time, I liaise with the marketing team as my role at Go Overseas encompasses partner success.

Being able to visit Global Experiences in Barcelona provided an excellent opportunity to learn more about their day-to-day programming (an area I’ve been very intrigued to know more about!). I learned a lot from their Barcelona staff -- as their areas of expertise are completely different from my own. There is so much to know within the areas of student development and program operations.

What stood out to you about this program specifically?

Being able to step away from my desk and see what it’s like to manage and nurture interns while they’re abroad opened my eyes a lot. As I’m in touch with hundreds of organizations (dozens of intern abroad companies alone) I had a hunch that there was an immense amount of heart (and sweat!) that went into these programs -- from the initial interview, to the placement, all the way through to job references in the future. I had no idea just how much, though.

What stood out to me about Global Experience’s program in Barcelona was the amount of care and concern that their team pours into their participants. Even well beyond their internship abroad -- these students are supported and have a lifelong network to reference.

What were your observations about the current interns in Barcelona?

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect meeting the current interns. Would they be mature? Hardworkers? Travel-savvy students? Or the opposite? One of the many takeaways that I learned from the GE Barcelona Director was how much work goes into their intern selection process prior to even interviewing for the internships.

When an intern is selected for the program, the GE team works incredibly hard to find an internship placement in the student’s field of interest AND matches the type of work that they want to do day-to-day. On top of that, they’re vetting organizations that will provide a nurturing and positive experience for their interns.

GE doesn’t want to partner with an organization in Barcelona that gives their interns “busy work” or doesn’t foster a learning environment to further their students’ professional development skills. The Barcelona Director consistently takes advantage of local networking opportunities and events to find great organizations for her interns to be placed in.

To further this -- if the intern doesn’t have any Spanish skills, Global Experiences seeks to find a supervisor whom the student can effectively communicate with.

Once an intern is placed in a company, the GE Barcelona team checks in on the student's and supervisor’s progress and assists where they can, while fostering the intern’s independence and professional development skills.

Throughout the internship, the GE students have opportunities to participate in several cultural events around Barcelona. I had the privilege to experience Gaudí's famous Park Güell with the current cohort.

Needless to say, the GE team works very hard to meet all their participant, placement and program criteria. Thus, the type of student that this program attracts is typically driven, culturally-sensitive and mature. I personally experienced this with the cohort that I met.

Any advice for future interns based on your site visit?

Learn a little Spanish! Even better, if you’re able to hone basic conversation skills ahead of applying for the Global Experiences program -- the internship placement opportunities will be even greater. Spanish is not a requirement for this program by any means, but I wanted to mention this as advice I’d want to know so I could maximize my planning process and my time abroad.

Not to mention, getting around Barcelona and traveling throughout Spain is a lot more fun when you can talk to the locals in Spanish. It’s a great ice-breaker and being bilingual is a very advantageous skill to acquire (or hone) regardless.