I am so sad to say that my time in Madrid has finally come to a close and I am writing this blog from back home in Pittsburgh amidst a thunderstorm (a drastic change of weather, to say the least). This program has changed me for the better and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to have participated in such an amazing experience. Going into the program back in May, I knew what I wanted from it: an internship experience unlike my others that could also kickstart my career with international options, but, in the end, I got so much more than that.
Academically and professionally, this program made sense for me. I am studying marketing and Spanish and am hoping to live in a Spanish speaking country post-grad. I have worked different marketing internships, in different industries, but never in a Spanish speaking company. Going into the workforce, an internship like this one would set me apart from other applicants, and would be exactly what Spanish speaking firms would be looking for in a candidate. Yet, once I got to Madrid, I quickly realized that there is so much more to working abroad than just a difference in language, specifically when it comes to marketing. Marketing is all about knowing your consumer and finding the best way to advertise your product to them. And, for starters, the culture of my new target audience was completely different than mine, and one I virtually knew nothing about. At first, I really struggled with this. The catchy phrases and captions I came up with didn’t translate over, the Europeans hold product value in different things, and overall, I was new to the company and was still trying to understand how we wanted to portray ourselves to the public. Working in the fashion industry, and noting the remarkable importance the Europeans put on their appearances, marketing goes beyond the clothing itself and is deeply stemmed in the values and morals of the company. The Europeans want their clothing to say something about them, and in my company’s specific case, wearing clothing from The Circular Project Shop portrays sustainability and awareness of our planet. This industry exposed me to more marketing tasks/opportunities such as fashion shows, interviews, photoshoots, etc. and has taught me so much about what I want in a future career. Ultimately, my time at The Circular Project Shop helped me gain a stronger sense of adaptability, and understand the “learn as you go” process – I am so grateful to have worked in this industry, and for this company and the skills I gained in this internship will vastly help me in my future career.
Yet, I think the way I grew the most was on a personal level. As I mentioned earlier, living in Spain required a high sense of adaptability, and is something I learned along the way – you can never truly be prepared to move to another country by yourself. Although I live alone at school and know how to cook, clean, and provide for myself, being in another country with no income is a whole other ballgame. I had to juggle financial budgeting, time management, and culture shock (specifically pickpocketing and getting my phone stolen) simultaneously, while also trying to make the most of my time there. When I found myself in stressful situations, it was up to me to fix it, and I was independent in my solution process. And although the thought of that is a bit scary, it forced me to show up for myself. These types of skills are critical for adult life, whether it be in a professional sense, or a personal sense, and will really come in handy in my future. At Pitt, I want to use my adaptability and independence skillset to join more organizations, try new things and really explore my career potential.
And lastly, I am extremely fortunate to have found a great group of friends, and go through this program with them by my side. My beautiful memories in Madrid are thanks to them, and a product of our joint spontaneity. As someone who is passionate for travel, I was so eager to come on this trip, and prayed that I would find people that matched by energy – and boy, were my prayers answered. During my time abroad, I am lucky enough to have visited 10 cities and 4 countries and I truly could not have picked better people to have done this with. I’ve seen beautiful countries, learned new cultures, went on incredible adventures, and created bonds that will last a lifetime.
Signing off (for good this time),