Rachel interned abroad in Seville, Spain with World Endeavors.
Rachel was no stranger to Spain during her World Endeavors Internship in Seville. She had been there before for a study abroad program while she was a psychology and Spanish major at the University of Minnesota. With aspirations of working someday in international human resources, she decided to return to Spain, this time to get some work experience. “I wanted to use my Spanish skills with a business overseas, to see how it ran,” she explained.
“Business in Spain is a little more passive,” said Rachel, who attributes the difference to the more socialist Spanish culture. Instead of viewing this as a business handicap, however, Rachel saw it as an advantage. She enjoyed the sense of community and neighborliness she experienced in Seville, and hopes to work in Spain again some day. “If you ran into someone walking down the street, they would stop and talk to you for an hour,” she said. “Local people are easy to meet if you want to.”
While in Seville, Rachel worked for a social service agency that developed programs for children and the elderly in the immediate community, as well as in other countries, including Germany and Kenya. Rachel personally developed an after-school program for students whose parents weren’t home during the day, with an end goal of exposing them to different activities such as drama, music, and art. Her work involved doing everything from the budget to grant writing, training, and marketing. She also did some translation work for other projects.
Even the workday in Spain is more laid back. Like in the US, the typical workday starts at nine o’clock. However, at two in the afternoon, most people go home to have lunch with their families—the largest meal of the day–and to take a siesta. This is in part because it gets so hot during the middle of the day in the summer that it is generally unwise to be outside, or engaged in any activity that could leave you exhausted.
Alas, the workday is not over by two o’clock—after the siesta, employees return to the office by five, and then work until eight in the evening. “People there like to go out,” said Rachel, describing how neighbors and friends would socialize over wine and food most evenings. “Discos stayed open until seven in the morning,” said Rachel. “It was really something else.”
Some days, Rachel would not go back to work in the afternoon, and would instead spend time with friends shopping, going to a movie, or going to a pool. She bought and cooked most of her food, and with the help of her older roommate, learned to make gazpacho.
Even the town of Seville itself exuded a personal, humanistic charm. According to Rachel, Seville is a fairly large city, and yet it still seems small. Transportation is relatively easy—from her apartment, Rachel could take the bus, or, if the weather was nice, walk the 40 minutes to work. When she was there the city was also building a metro.
After returning to Minnesota to pursue a Masters degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Rachel reflected on her experience working in Spain. “It definitely gave me a new outlook,” she said. “If you work with an international population, you have to adapt to the way they do business.” She remains a strong supporter of studying and interning abroad. “You will learn things that you don’t even know that you don’t know.”