Matthew is a Psychological Operations Sergeant with the US Army. He studied International Business, Finance, and Spanish in college and did a Business Administration internship in Mexico through World Endeavors.
How do you feel looking back on your experience in Mexico?
It was great. I met a lot of wonderful people and there are people I still stay in contact with.
Why did you choose to intern in Mexico with World Endeavors?
Choosing to intern abroad in Mexico was the easy part. I needed an internship abroad as part of my graduation requirement and it needed to be in the region I was studying, which was Mexico. I had been looking for an internship on my own. I write to some companies I had found online and it wasn’t working out. So I looked up internships in Mexico online and World Endeavors popped up. World Endeavors handled all the background details and really sped up the process.
What was a typical day like at your internship?
I tried to get in as many hours as I could on my internship. I worked from 9-6, 4 days a week. My supervisor gave me a day off each week to take in the city and the culture. I was working for a branch of the WTO (World Trade Organization). I would translate reports and update the website so businesses and people on the site had the most up to date information. When I left they didn’t have any interns, so I offered to help once I was back home. One time, my supervisor found me on instant messenger and asked me to help with a translation.
What was the greatest challenge in your internship? What was your greatest accomplishment?
The greatest challenge was brushing up on my Spanish and being able to read it. The more I did, the better I got. By the fourth week, a lot of people didn’t know I wasn’t from Mexico. I think my greatest accomplishment was that the people at my internship didn’t want me to leave, and they wanted me to continue to give them help.
What was a favorite moment or a favorite part of your internship?
I had the chance to work with the state economic development secretariat. We took some university students on a few field trips to meet with managers outside the city. We were able to see the actual trade of dairy products. On another trip we went to a larger facility, so we got to see the industry on a small scale and a large scale.
How were your co-workers?
They were very friendly. When I left, they told me if I was ever in town to call them up and we could get together. My supervisor had actually lived in California so we had lots of things to talk about.
Did you have any problems with the language?
My Spanish skills were ok since I had studied Spanish for 4 years, but I had never been confident in it. I didn’t really use it much where I lived in Southern California so I had to work on rebuilding my vocabulary and now I am a lot more confident in my Spanish speaking ability
How was living with a host family?
My host family was great. I was actually taken care of by the grandmother of a family (while the rest of the family lived close by). They involved me in everything they were doing, including family parties. The daughter would always invite me out with them. I never felt uncomfortable; I knew that I could always knock on one of their doors and hang out.
What was a typical meal in Mexico?
I ate a lot of rice and beans. My family made me a lot of chicken, since I don’t eat pork or red meat. I got to eat a lot of soy-based products which they typically ate themselves, so they didn’t have to buy it especially for me.
What are you doing now?
I am currently looking for a job in banking/finance or marketing and it’s good to have that international experience on your resume. It was a great life experience.
What advice would you give to someone traveling abroad?
You really want to take in what Mexico has to offer. Don’t change who you are but try to be more like them. Eat what they eat, do what they do, speak how they speak. When you make that effort, people notice and you will get closer with those around you. You can do the things they do.
What comparisons did you draw between Mexican and US culture?
Being in Mexico made me realize how much extra stuff I have. In Mexico the people I met used things modestly, while in the U.S., we tend to overindulge. The cars are smaller; here everyone wants the 4-door pickup and the big engine that they do not need. The people I met in Mexico bought within their means.