56 days. 5 Spanish cities. 25 new friends. I have been in Madrid for almost two whole months but it feels like I just arrived at the airport yesterday. Each month was filled with adventure and experiences that I will never have again. Nothing else will be able to compare to the days I spent in Madrid with amazing people from around the world!
I will be heading home with excitement to see my family and friends but I will also feel upset knowing that this experience is over. When I get home, I will have a thousand different stories to tell my mom! There are so many unforgettable memories on rooftop terraces, weekend trips, Spanish nightlife and the summer heat.
Beginning your career abroad may be one of the best decisions you make along your professional path. I would like to give others the same advice that I was given before accepting my position in Spain with Absolute Internship. So let me set the scene: After a long night of classes, homework, and officer work in one of my extracurricular clubs, I mentioned to one of the other officers that I had just applied for a position abroad, however, I was hesitant because I would have to pay to go there! In other words, I felt that I was paying to work for someone. A few of the older officers heard me, and they quickly asked where I would be interning. I replied, Madrid. They exclaimed that they had interned in the same city in the same situation without pay. More importantly, they told me to take the position if it was offered to me – that it would be worth the expense and make for one amazing experience. They couldn’t have been more right. So here is my advice: intern abroad. Your career will thank you, your future employers will thank you, and you will thank you. The experience is priceless.
Absolute Internship gave our Madrid group the chance to broaden our horizons – literally and metaphorically. Literally, we took a weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain where the horizon was made up of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the pale blue sky that seemed to smile as I lay on my towel on the beach. Metaphorically, Absolute Internship organized two sessions with guest speakers who expanded our mindsets; the first being with two representatives from a company that one of our members was interning for and the second with the CEO of a startup company here in Madrid.
Madrid, Spain is an interesting city in the way that I quickly found myself forgetting I was actually in Spain. Now, this may surprise some people or perhaps even dishearten them, but let me explain. When my mom asked me what it was like living abroad, in Spain of all places, I realized it really didn’t feel much different than living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the semester. Cities are more alike than different all around the world, it appears. Nonetheless, to answer my mom’s question, I did notice a few differences that serve as subtle reminders of my European life.
My first month was a crazy adventure; I got to know a group of people all from different places around the world. I learned what it’s like to be in a professional environment and I learned a lot of personal lessons as well.
The first thing I loved about this program was my internship. I think I got really lucky and had the opportunity to work for an interesting company. So far, I have learned a lot and am continuing to be given more responsibilities as time goes on. The work environment is really enjoyable too because it’s very relaxed which is nice because this is my first job in the business field. This program has exposed me to many professional insights that I might not have gotten at home. For example, learning to work with people on an international level.
Just do it. Intern abroad because I haven’t a good enough reason not to. An internship in another country not only gives insight in an entirely different culture, but also the added benefit of “real world” working experience. Without question, I learn at a much faster pace when everything is hands on rather than taught conceptually and written in a textbook. For something as difficult and complex as laser-cutting I went from completely clueless to being able operate it without much of a problem within the first week. That extra time gave me the opportunity to branch out to other machines where I was taught to grind and polish and “tap” metals. As an intern, I’m curious about everything about my work. I’m encouraged to ask questions there and that gives me my motivation to learn more. When I started work in programming and 3D modeling, my supervisor was initially skeptical because I knew nothing about it and interns usually have some experience before coming here. But I was determined to learn it and asked if I could read the manual and would read it for hours on my own time. Eventually, he saw my progress and decided to give me actual work. In the end, I was given the opportunity to model for a large scale project and he was impressed that I was able to finish the framework for it by the end of the week.
Before I left my home in Melbourne, Australia; almost everyone I talked to reminded me to pack warmer clothes. Because even though I was technically going in summer, London summertime is lightyears different to Melbourne’s. or so they thought. London is currently experiencing a heatwave that is so very reminiscent of home, any homesickness has evaporated. I am regretting listening to their advice as most of my clothes are too warm to comfortable wear. Good thing there is Primark; an amazing store where you can get a whole new summer wardrobe for around 50 pounds (shoes included). I highly recommend visiting the one near Tottenham Court Rd Tube Station.