Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Global & Multicultural

From Abroad to My Internship

This blog post was written by Eva Chen Chen ’18, who studied abroad in Spain last Spring…

Everyone who I’ve talked to that has gone abroad has told me stories of their life changing experience; they emphasize their personal growth, immersion in different cultures, and the formation of lifelong friendships. But what about after abroad? Where does this life changing amazing experience come in? Your internships (or future jobs for seniors out there). In this post, I’m going to talk about my experience of using the skill sets that I brought from my study abroad to my summer internship.

{A little background: This summer, I worked for a lighting manufacturing company as a supply chain intern serving as a buyer/planner and worked on multiple inventory reduction projects.}

The most obvious skill set that you bring back is language. I was able to use my new level of Spanish fluency to communicate with the team and take down that language barrier. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to explain your idea (albeit with a lot of hand motions and some Google translate) to people who usually would have a hard time understanding it in English. This allowed for my ideas for example, of improving processes, to be implemented faster and more efficiently.

Another skill set that came into use was the “YOLO” fearlessness or in other words, being more spontaneous. While abroad, I encountered challenges that often times required quick decisions on the spot. It taught me to “just do it” instead of taking the time to think it through. This type of fearlessness came into play whenever I identified a problem at my workplace. Instead of creating a thorough plan of action, I simply went to my manager, explained the problem identified, and went ahead with actions that often times resulted in failures but also small successes.

Lastly, studying abroad has taught me to work with people from other cultures. Living in a homestay with mi family espanola tested my ability to quickly adapt and being open to the cultures. First of all, I would like to point out that as a fairly introverted human being, this was a learning curve. I challenged myself during the first month to always eat meals at home with my family and spend quality time with them either chatting or watching TV. I gained valuable insight on how I personally immerse myself in a different culture: for me it was about being a good listener and sharing a meal. Taking these lessons, I used them yet again to immerse myself in the work culture. I was able to adapt to my workplace environment very quickly by being attentive and taking opportunities to go out to lunch with coworker or bringing in donuts. There’s nothing like bonding with others than “oh man this donut is good”.