Mi Última Semana

¡Buenos Días Todxs!

I cannot believe I will return home on Saturday! A part of me feels like this program has been happening for a lifetime and that I have been living in Spain for years, but another part of me feels like I only arrived yesterday. I remember the morning that I arrived I was so excited; I don’t remember having any fears. It has been my dream since middle school to study abroad in Spain and once I was on the plane, I knew I was going to love my life here. I talked in Spanish with the taxi driver the whole way home (funny how I call it my home now) which gave me a boost of confidence and then when I arrived at the apartment, my host mom was so welcoming and friendly. I remember looking out my bedroom window while I unpacked all my clothes just thinking about how crazy it was that my one of my biggest childhood dreams finally came true. And a dream is exactly what this trip has been for me. While most moments of this trip have been exciting, lively, and heartwarming, there were some moments that were overwhelming and stressful. Although, that is the same for everything in life and honestly it was because of those stress ridden moments that I have learned the most about who I am (and even who I could be) and pushed myself to grow outside of my comfort zone. While I am very sad that this is my last week in Madrid (I have been crying for the past two weeks at the thought of leaving my host family), I am also very excited to take back everything I have learned and have become back to the States and start another chapter of my life!  

Speaking of taking things back to the United States, I will admit that while it might be cheesy to say that this trip has been life changing, I truly do believe that working at Smileat has altered my plans for my future career. Before this internship, I had always seen myself leaving college with a job in a supply chain department at a large corporation located either in Pittsburgh or New York City and eventually working my way up the ranks in the corporate world. And while that still might happen because a lot of the companies I want to work for, are larger companies, I have learned that I love the feel of a small company because of this internship. Everyone knows each other and not just on a work level; all of my coworkers are friends and cheer each other on for both their career and personal successes. This type of work environment is something that I will definitely be searching for when I apply to internships and also my future job. 

Additionally, working in Spain has also changed my view on success in a professional sense and has reinforced my beliefs about what traits a successful employee exhibit. At Smileat success has been defined as constantly striving for more, whether that be more sales in the next quarter, or expanding to new department stores, or enhancing customer service. No matter the situation, Smileat is always looking to improve. Additionally, this company, and specifically my director, really embraced the idea that success is not dependent on the amount of money one makes or their position in the company, but rather if they are creating a positive change in the lives of their customers and/or if they feel fulfilled by their job. While this concept somewhat holds true in the United States, I believe that in Spain this belief is more widespread and is very prominent in their culture. Versus in the United States, a lot of people in the corporate world would still disagree with this statement and people typically base success on the amount of money people make through their careers. Although, the United States and Spain share a lot of similarities when it comes to the expected behaviors of a successful employee. During my internship, my boss really stressed effective and active communication, teamwork, and always staying curious. At my company, even though everyone has their own tasks to complete, a lot of these tasks overlap with other departments and require people to consult and/or work side-by-side with other coworkers. Hence, active communication and strong teamworking abilities are highly necessary. Additionally, these two characteristics are also a requirement for anyone who wants to work in supply chain. In my opinion, supply chain is the foundation of any company because without proper inventory management and transportation systems, customers will not receive the correct packages and/or will not receive them at the stated time which will lead to lower repeat customers. However, to ensure happy customers, people within the logistics department need to work with other departments and companies to create an accurate forecast, purchase the correct materials, and effectively store and transport their products.

I am very thankful to have had this experience at Smileat because I have been able to practice all three of these traits and more while learning about the work culture of Spain and increasing my knowledge about procurement and purchasing.

I can’t believe the next time I write to you all I will be back in the United States! And for the last time …

¡Hasta Luego!

Saoirse Hopp