Every employer wants to see at least some experience in your chosen field listed on your résumé.
The more you already know, the less time and resources they would have to spend training you and the more you could potentially bring to the table. But even with plenty to illustrate your work ethic, there are certain strategies to making sure your time interning abroad sets you apart from the rest.
Here are my top five tips for making the most of your internship in Spain:
1. Build relationships with your supervisors and coworkers. I’m not talking about just in a professional capacity; Ask them about how their family is doing; Eat with them during lunch break. Make an effort to be friendly, polite and ask lots of questions. You are here to learn, after all, and your supervisor and coworkers will be incredible resources, not to mention excellent networking connections for future job searches.
2. Practice speaking the language whenever you can. Many people in Barcelona are bilingual and speak English very well. However, if you spend all your free time with Americans or other international students, you will never make progress in your ability to communicate in Spanish or Catalan. Take every opportunity from big to small to practice. Watch local TV stations, order off the regular menu and start conversations in Spanish even if you know the person might speak English as well.
3. Network everywhere you go. The best way I have found to discover more of my passions and interests in a future career is by observing someone who already has experience in this industry. Going to networking events, evening mixers and visiting professional spaces helps you meet people who may have similar ambitions and have already established their professional lives. Get those business cards and stay connected when you leave the country through LinkedIn.
4. Volunteer to do anything you can. My internship is public relations focused, but when my boss told me their business development department could use a hand, I jumped at the chance. Even though I ended up staying in the office a little longer, I now have new knowledge and experience working with a unique online platform. These activities make great conversation pieces during job interviews and prove to your employer that you take initiative.
5. Have fun! Your internship may not be ideal, but most of your experience will be based on your attitude. If you complain all the time or feel frustrated about things that don’t necessarily meet your expectations, your memories of Spain will be disappointing. Don’t expect perfection. Do expect to be flexible and learn from the differences. At the very least, you may discover that this is something you don’t want to go into and cross it off the list. But every opportunity is still a valuable chance to learn and expand yourself as a person and a professional. Enjoy every moment you have.