Things I Have Learned So Far


Welcome back to my chaotic life in my Madrid. Last week, I decided I wanted to start making more of an effort to explore the city and to spend time with friends after work. During my third week, I started getting really stressed about not doing enough here and that I was almost halfway through the program. When I talked with my Mom about it, she gave me this amazing piece of advice: “If you do everything the first time you’re there, you have no reason to go back”. This made me feel a lot calmer about not being able to do everything in these two months, but also motivated me to at least do the most I can during the time I have. I also realized that the main reason I was so worried about the program being half-way through is because I don’t want to leave. I really do love every moment I have here whether it is working on projects with my bosses, aimlessly strolling through a new part of the city, or playing the same board game every weekend with my host family. So, long story short, I started creating a bunch of plans with friends in the program. Some of my favorite moments was going to a flamenco show, riding a rowboat in the Estanque Grande del Retiro, and watching the sunset at a park. So, although I have struggled with some anxiety and worry about not doing enough or not learning the language as much as I thought I would, every time one of those thoughts pop into my head, I just remind myself that this is NOT the last time Madrid will see me. Every time I take a walk or do something new with my friends, there is always a moment when I just truly realize that this city is my happy place and that without a doubt this city will be my future home one day.

With that being said, I have not only started to change and learn about myself personally, but I have also grown professionally. I have really enjoyed my internship not only because my co-workers are very supportive and welcoming, but also because I get to complete a lot of projects that are very hands-on. This mixture of a collaborative office environment but also needing to complete solo projects have given me a nice balance of opportunities to gain and enhance both my “soft” and “hard” professional skills. I believe there are four main “soft” skills that I have either been able to refine or gain. These include professional communicational Spanish, teamwork, problem solving, and adaptability. In class, I only use casual Spanish because tare typical tasks are answering questions, having discussions with the other students, or writing. Hence, this internship is the first time I’ve had to use Spanish in a professional scene, especially because a large part of my tasks is finding and contacting local suppliers or logistic companies. These types of tasks have been a great way to enhance my writing abilities. Additionally, I attended a “feria” which allowed me to practice speaking Spanish in a professional scene. Before this trip, I had felt like teamwork was already a strength of mine because all my jobs in the past have required me to finish tasks with co-workers. This internship, however, has shown me how a supply chain department is so closely tied to every other department and hence, has provided me the opportunity to improve my teamwork abilities. This is especially true because I need to speak in Spanish with my co-workers which calls for a lot of extra patience and asking questions. The most challenging “soft” skills for me to work-on have been adaptability and problem solving. A lot of the time, my director will assign me a project, but not explain it thoroughly or not explain every possible outcome because there are so many to account for. Due to this, I have had to learn how to adapt to the situation and try to figure out how to solve the problem with the limited information given to me. This has been the most challenging because I am the type of person that needs to know every single detail/requirement before starting a task, but this internship has forced me to change my way of thinking and try to look a situation, ask questions to myself, and then try to find the best solution. On the other side of the spectrum, I have been able to test my Excel knowledge, learn about Incoterm, analysis various business case studies, and gain an understanding of the online inventory system Ordoo. These “hard” skills have encouraged me to ask more in-depth questions about the procurement process and gain a better understanding of the ins-and-outs of everyday responsibilities of someone working in a procurement department.

Hasta Luego,

Saoirse Hopp