Tell us a little about your experience working with The Intern Group.
I am currently an Account Manager at Go Overseas. Recently, I was able to shadow The Intern Group’s program in Madrid. This interview is a reflection of my experiences during the site visit.
I’ve worked with The Intern Group 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 The Intern Group in Madrid 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 Madrid 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?
The Intern Group’s participant population is extremely diverse -- there are 100+ nationalities represented!
On top of learning and developing in a diverse workplace, The Intern Group participants have an incredible opportunity to forge and nurture multi-national friendships with each other. I witnessed this firsthand meeting and interacting with the current Madrid cohort.
I’ve worked in International Education for the past 4 years and one of the biggest “complaints” many of us hear consistently is the regret that students have when the return home and realize they didn’t challenge themselves to meet more locals, but instead stuck to their friend group within their program. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (some of my best friends are my fellow study abroad’ers!) however when you’re living (not to mention, working) in a foreign country, there is no better time to interact with people outside of your university and/or country.
What I found to be really beautiful and unique about The Intern Group was that this international flavor is a natural component of their program and I think it’s truly a standout quality to be considered.
As a participant, you’re bound to be in a diverse group from whom you can learn, grow and further your global awareness.
What were your observations about the current interns in Madrid?
Aside from being a diverse bunch -- the current cohort in Madrid were extremely articulate, proactive and hardworking students.
I had several conversations with interns who were aiming to continue working in Madrid upon their internship ending (believe me, it’s hard to not want to prolong your stay in Spain!). They wanted to impress their employers -- thus they cared a lot about the quality of their work and they wanted to take full advantage of all the extra activities The Intern Group organized for them. They were all trying the local cuisine (at the famous Mercado San Miguel) and enjoying the cultural traditions (a Flamenco show at the well known Las Tablas theatre).
I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the interns to maximise their experience in Spain beyond showing up for work. This isn’t always the case when it comes to students abroad so it’s a testament to the hard work of The Intern Group Madrid coordinators.
Any advice for future interns based on your site visit?
Be proactive. I had some great conversations with some of the students about how they were surprised at how “low key” the office environment was when they started. That absolutely doesn't translate to “not challenging” but essentially means -- you’re not going to be catered to as an “american intern”. Your expectation should be that you’re just like any other Spanish student intern.
One tidbit I learned is that most university students in Spain are required to complete an internship prior to graduation so the internship placements in Spain are quite competitive.
Some examples of being proactive: set up check-in’s with your management if you want to touch base more, or let your team know if you need more work to do, or if you’re unsatisfied with your work -- pull together a project proposal or ask permission to tweak your current assignment.
One student I talked to was taking free Spanish lessons due to his boss being so pleased with his work and wanting to nurture his professional development skills beyond the internship day-to-day.
If you put forth your best effort and are reliable -- you never know what benefits with come to fruition!