Participating in the IIP Madrid program has been one of my favorite experiences at Pitt. Professionally, I have gained a lot of experience at my internship placement. I was able to work with several teams at my company in different departments and was able to get a better idea of what I’, good at and that type of career I want to pursuit in the future. I got a lot of experience in translating at my internship by working on the website, dossiers for possible sponsors, and presentations for clients. I also was able to learn how to use several softwares and gain more technical skills that I hadn’t had the opportunity to learn before. Working at a Spanish company also helped me to work on improving my professional and conversational Spanish which was one of my main goals going into the program. Working with people who didn’t speak English or only knew a little forced me to only use Spanish and not switch to English when I didn’t know a word. Even though it was a relatively short program, I still feel like I was able to see that my Spanish had gotten a little better.
It took me a little while to adjust to certain aspects of living in Spain. It took me a few times to figure out the metro and to get used to having a longer commute to work. I also had a hard time adjusting to things like eating a really late lunch and dinner every day, but it ended up becoming normal in my routine while I was there. During the program I was able to travel to three countries and all over Spain on weekends and see places that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. I’m really glad that I got to develop a relationship with my host family and coworkers. I spent a lot of time with my host family at their apartment and really enjoyed getting to know them and talking about differences between the US and Spain. I also got to develop relationships with my coworkers while at my internship site. My team always invited me to join them for lunch and I was able to join networking events like happy hours and workshops to practice my Spanish. I plan on keeping in touch with my coworkers and have been able to make a lot of connections on my LinkedIn with employees of the Impact Hub and employees of startups that operate out of the coworking spaces. Outside of the internship, I met a really good group of friends on the program that I wouldn’t have met otherwise that I’m really grateful for.
When I was applying for this program, I was really nervous about my Spanish skills and was afraid that it would be too difficult to work in a Spanish office and live with a Spanish family, but I’m really glad I pushed myself to do it. Some of the people that I worked with did not speak a lot of English, so I had to find ways around words that I didn’t know which helped me a lot to improve my vocabulary. In working on projects with people from the consulting end event coordination team, I was able to learn a lot more professional Spanish in working with clients. I feel a lot more confident in my Spanish skills and feel like I could work in a Spanish office in the future. I’m hoping that one day I will be able to live and work outside of the US and doing this program has given me a lot of experience in what that would be like. After the program, I hope to start working towards becoming a certified translator and feel like this experience made me feel like it’s something that I could actually do in the future.
I plan on going back to visit Madrid again one day and look forward to meeting up with my host family and some of my coworkers. I’ve learned a lot from this program and I’m happy that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do it.