Hi everyone! My name is Emily Thompson. I’m going into my fourth year at Pitt with majors in Urban Studies and Statistics, and minors in Spanish and a certificate in Global Health. It’s been a path to get here, from ideas of medical school in freshman year (I’m sure some of you can relate) to realizing in sophomore year that those ideas weren’t based in a reality of how I wanted to live my life. I wasn’t tapping into my talents, and that was holding me back. So, I switched paths to align with my love of languages, logical reasoning, and design In my case, this means designing livable cities that are optimized by a combination of comprehensive data analysis and personal, qualitative aspects. I am also an avid supporter of a healthy work-life balance, which for me means time to be outside biking, hiking, and playing Ultimate, as well as time to play guitar, host dinner parties with friends, and celebrate life in general.
On my search for the highly-touted “junior year summer internship”, I found a LOT of options in the Pittsburgh region. With a background in Urban Studies, I attract primarily local government jobs. After getting my master’s degree in epidemiology next year, that will probably change, but for right now, the majority of jobs that match my current skillset don’t align with my dreams for the future. Those dreams include being able to use my skills in either Spanish or German in a setting that allows me to collaborate towards creative solutions that maximize public health. For the past two summers, I’ve been based mostly in Pittsburgh, working first in a clinical research position, and second in community research with Casa San José, a Latino community center. Each summer has brought me closer to pursuing my ideal career, and I felt it would only be right to continue that momentum this summer.
I found out about Madrid: Pitt Business to the World through my desire to expand my worldview by spending this summer abroad, in either a Spanish or German-speaking country. I began looking for internships abroad independently, but I quickly discovered that it was difficult to be an international applicant. The systems in place favor native residents, and the questions of lodging, payment, and building community seemed irreconcilable. So, finding this program that handled everything seemed too good to be true.
I feel that I will develop personally first by learning to accept challenges as they arise, because I am sure they will be inevitable. So far, my experiences in life have been cushioned by familiarity- friends, family, counselors, staff, supporting me through any difficult circumstances I might face. In Spain, that support network will still be accessible, but there will be times when I need to work through difficulties on my own. Knowing that I am able to work through problems independently will build my confidence for post-graduate life, which will require new levels of independent motivation and decision-making. I also anticipate growth related to navigating professional environments. I have never worked in an in-person office, and am excited to experience office dynamics, and workplace conversations. My jobs until now (Resident Assistant in a dormitory, preschool teacher, babysitter, researcher) have had very little workplace regulations or culture. I am interested to see how I adapt to Spanish workplace customs, and learn to relate on a personal level with people who may not speak my native language. I expect the adjustment period to teach me a lot about observing, as I try to learn about work patterns and habits, as well as how people tend to relate to one another. Surpassing the adjustment period will probably also build my confidence, as I learn that I am able to thrive in an environment where I may need to work a little harder to fit in.
My pursuing this program most directly relates to my Spanish minor, for which I am taking my second to last class this semester. This internship can act as a culmination of the Spanish academic work I have completed so far, and will hopefully lead to fluency. This program also aligns with my major, Urban Studies, as studying abroad in an international city will serve as a central component of my ongoing research project. Immersion into Madrid’s urban dynamics will pair with my study of aspects of city life, such as transportation and mobility, housing design, centrality of green space, and more. With my global health certificate, I have spent time studying international public health systems, and feel the health systems in Spain would be a useful case study to supplement these classes.
Finally, since my professional goals are ever-evolving, this internship will continue to expand my understanding of the types of responsibilities I may have in fields that have less concrete paths, such as city planning and public health. I will be able to understand, in my first structured 9-5 work environment, what a future of that nature might look like.