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In the fall of 2015, I was approaching graduation with zero idea of what I wanted to do with my “career.” I would soon be graduating with degrees in marketing, management, and Spanish; but had no clear trajectory on what the future held.

So, after considering a few different options, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue an international internship through Barcelona SAE. A three-month program that would allow me to intern at a local Barcelona company, in an industry of interest, where I could develop transferrable skills for the increasingly competitive job market.

Fast forward five years, and I can see how impactful that internship was not only in my career, but also my life in general in achieving the goals I’ve set for myself.

I look back on my Barcelona experience with so much gratitude, and would encourage anyone considering an internship abroad to take the leap—it will be one of the best decisions of your life.

3 Ways an International Internship Transformed My Career

1. I gained a clear direction on what I wanted from a career

My internship abroad helped me solidify the areas I was strong at, and especially, the type of work I was passionate about. Working in an international office opened my eyes to individuals from so many different backgrounds and work experiences, the potential opportunities I saw were truly limitless.

I learned the type of work environment and company culture that helps me flourish. I discovered the types of skills needed to obtain a career at an international company. Plus, my internship abroad gave me peace-of-mind that even if I start down one path and change my mind—I possess the skills to control my own fate and confidently change directions if need be.

I returned to the U.S. with so much more clarity about the type of work I wanted to be doing and my unique skills. Plus, my international work experience enhanced my marketability tenfold, allowing me to be more selective about the opportunities I wanted to pursue.

2. I discovered a confidence that can only be found by doing something wildly outside your comfort zone

I knew at the time how beneficial stepping outside your comfort zone was, but I didn’t know the magnitude of how it would help me in a professional sense.

Navigating the unknown of an international internship was so incredibly empowering.

I was the only American at my office, I garnered confidence from working in a diverse landscape, with people from all over the world. Leaving Barcelona, I felt equipped to pursue any opportunity that came my way—with the confidence and skills to achieve any goal I set my mind to.

3. I built a network of individuals who I still interact with today

Above all else, the most important aspects I gleaned from my time abroad, were the people and connections. Not only did I connect with the staff at my internship company, but also the Barcelona SAE staff, and my fellow peers who were studying and interning abroad through the program.

While I did intend to genuinely connect on a personal basis and make friendships, I discovered having talented people from around the world in your corner has countless long-term career benefits.

I made sure to add all these individuals on LinkedIn and stay in contact with them. I’ve visited friends at their respective homes in the U.S. and reconnected with the Barcelona SAE staff in Barcelona. I’ve stayed in touch with my colleagues from my internship. Over the years, these individuals have offered me career advice, job referrals, and more, and I know they’ll continue to help me in the future, just as I will for them.

No one knows what tomorrow will hold, or what exactly your career will look like moving forward. But, an internship abroad will better prepare you to enter the workforce and equip you with the confidence and connections to achieve anything you set your mind to.

Learn more about an international internship with Barcelona SAE.

Samantha Areman

Samantha is a Marketing major from University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and interned abroad during Summer 2016.