Surprisingly Prepared

It is currently extremely HOT in Madrid. I am used to Pittsburgh weather that is warm and rainy. I am barely surviving in this 90-degree 15% humidity. I escaped the heat and saw rain for the first time in five weeks this past weekend in Ireland. It is absolutely gorgeous and incredibly green in Dublin. It was really fun to be able to explore a new country with different customs and of course speak English for a little while! I was also able to meet up with some of my friends in the Ireland IIP program. It was interesting to have conversations about what their internship experiences have been like so far.

As I have mentioned many times before in my blogs, I felt completely unprepared and unaware of what to expect when I first arrived here for the internship program. However, I have come to realize how prepared I actually was without even realizing it. A lot of the skills I gained that have been useful thus far in my international experience I attribute to my two years in Pitt Business. My classes, student organizations, the Plus3 program, as well as the networking events put on by the business school were the biggest contributors to my preparedness when arriving in Spain.

My internship is in Supply Chain Management, and because of this the two classes I have found to be most useful are Operations Management and Quantitative Methods. I learned a lot of terminology in Operations that has helped me understand how the supply chain functions at the hospital. Without this background, I would have needed to ask for a more clarification and explanation of terms. Thanks to that class, I was able to ask questions about their safety stock levels instead of asking to define the term. Both Operations and Quantitative methods prepared me for the use of excel at my internship. I use excel almost every day, and without those two classes I would have been completely lost and unaware of how to properly use a pivot table. When it comes to excel, the only thing Pitt did not prepare me for was using excel on a Spanish computer. The keys on the keyboard are different, commands are different, and functions are different. In order to decrease this gap in knowledge between excel in two different languages, I did some research in order to better understand how it functions. I have since learned that instead of command “F” to find it is control “B” for buscar. Even these little differences can be frustrating, but after a week I was able to get the hang of it.

Two important skills to have are time-management and self-management. I believe that I was very prepared in managing my time since at Pitt I have to balance my classes, my business fraternity, my sorority, women in business, my job, friends, and somehow sleep. This was very difficult for me at the beginning of my time at pitt, but now I feel like a pro. I am able to live a well-balanced life thanks to my planner. Being able to plan out my time allows for me to fit in everything I want without having to give up too much. I brought this skill with me to Spain, and so far, I have been able to balance travel, internship, exploring, the gym, and time with my host family.

Possibly the most important key competencies that every student must learn are communication and problem solving. I focused on lot on improving my communication skills over the past few years at Pitt. I believe that holding a leadership position in my business fraternity and in women in business taught me a lot about proper communication. I know that everyone dreads taking business communications, but I would say that class has by far prepared me the most for my internship experience. Through the semester, I learned proper business styles of writing in different forms such as emails, memos, and letters. As for problem solving, I thought I had learned a lot from case studies and group projects at Pitt, but after arriving in Spain I realized how much more I had to learn. From figuring out transportation when there are strikes to learning to communicate with a language barrier, my problem-solving skills have grown incredibly over the past few weeks. I still have a lot to learn but being abroad forces you to problem solve instead of panic and ask others for help. Abroad, most of the time it is just me that can help me. I don’t think I could have grown in this aspect at Pitt, so I am grateful that I have this study abroad experience to help me improve on this competency.