Elia de Mendoza interns at the Spanish Embassy in Ghana

@IE University

It’s an exciting time at IEU, as students are currently preparing their applications for the Summer Internship Program at Spanish Embassies and Consulates around the world. This is an incredible opportunity for students, who get to choose from over 100 international locations to apply to.

Elia de Mendoza, who is currently working toward her Bachelor in Business Administration and International Relations, has spoken with us regarding her experiences last summer, when she interned at the Spanish Embassy in Accra, Ghana. During her time abroad, she collaborated with various departments at the Embassy, including Civil Registry and Passports, the Administrative Department, and their Cultural Projects unit.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY?

I found out about this opportunity when I went to talk to the Talent & Careers Department about possible job opportunities for the summer. I wanted to receive advice regarding the process for finding and applying to internships, and Victoria Tornos, one of the members of the Department, helped me tailor my CV and guided me in which opportunities would be more suitable for me. She informed me about many job websites and specific job opportunities, one of these being the internships at the Spanish embassies worldwide. A few months later, the Talent & Careers team sent an email to all university students to go into greater detail about this opportunity, its requirements, and its application process. After some consideration, I decided to apply.

WHY WAS THIS OPPORTUNITY APPEALING TO YOU?

As a student of Business Administration and International Relations, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to gain some knowledge and practical skills in the field of foreign affairs. Moreover, I wanted to gain some insight into the work and life of a diplomat, which is something that I’m considering doing in the future. On another note, I knew this opportunity would allow me to challenge myself and have an unforgettable experience in a foreign country. It would allow me to learn from a different culture, and at the same time adapt to a completely different environment. I also took into consideration the fact that working at the Embassy of Spain would allow me to grow my social network, as I would be able to work hand-in-hand with relevant professionals of the field, who might be able to help me develop my professional career in the future.

 

WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU DO THERE?

During the internship, I worked in different departments of the Embassy. Initially, I contributed to tasks related to the Civil Registry and Passports. Throughout that period, I was required to study the case files of people who wanted to register their marriages and their children’s births, as well as people who requested Spanish passports. After studying their cases, I had to interview the applicants and then draft the official documents to approve or dismiss their requests.

Later on, I worked for the administrative department, where I completed tasks related to the accounting and finance of the Embassy. I had to prepare the reports for the second term and first semester of the year, using the program Lince to list the deposit and expenditures, pay the workers, keep track of the savings of the Embassy, and distribute these savings, as well as other administrative tasks.

Finally, I helped develop the Embassy’s cultural program, contacting institutions to come to agreements about different projects that would take place in Accra to promote Spanish culture. We had to come up with the conditions for these events, and how to finance them.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE?

This experience was valuable on different levels. Firstly, in terms of the knowledge and skills acquired during work time, as well as being able to perceive how an Embassy works, its structure, the processes required for tasks to be completed, and the functions of each employee and diplomat.

Secondly, the internship was beneficial in terms of the experience of living in a country with a completely different culture such as Ghana, constantly meeting new people, attending events, and enjoying all the different aspects of the day-to-day life in Accra.

In this way, I have not only gained valuable professional experience for the first time, but I have also grown personally. I improved my capacity of adaptation and flexibility, overcoming new challenges and ultimately finishing the internship strong.

WHAT WOULD YOU HIGHLIGHT ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE?

From this experience, I would highlight the fact that it has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in several aspects. On the one hand, working at an Embassy requires you to complete tasks to perfection, minimizing mistakes and errors. You have to be meticulous in everything you say and do, because as an Embassy, we have to maintain a positive image of Spain in foreign countries. This put a lot of pressure on me at moments, especially at the beginning when I was still learning and adapting to the daily tasks. On the other hand, it is not easy to adapt to such a contrasting culture. However, this was a challenge that I overcame with time, and which has given me vast confidence for future internship opportunities, which I will now face with a different mindset.

WHAT WERE THE STAGES OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS?

The recruitment process, including the submission of the documents required, is carried out online.  Each program and location has its corresponding requirements and criteria regarding the university degree, skills, or languages spoken by the student.

As part of the process, I had to complete a form for each of the locations that I applied to. This form consists of a few questions regarding your degree, past professional experience, computer skills, and any other additional information that you want to share. Once students have completed their forms online, we have to send them by email to the person in charge of this program at IE University, Shuo Xing, who takes care of shortlisting candidates and forwarding them to the MAEC. Students receive an email from IE University some weeks later that informs them about whether they have been pre-selected for any of their chosen locations.

The next stage of the process varies quite a bit depending on the Consulate/Embassy. Some decide to interview candidates, and others directly select the candidate they feel is best application-wise. In my case, I only had to wait a couple of months before MAEC had listed the final resolution. I received an email from Talent & Careers notifying the decision: I had been selected to work at the Embassy of Spain in Ghana.

 

ANYTHING YOU WISH TO SHARE WITH OTHERS WHO MAY BE INTERESTED IN APPLYING IN THE FUTURE?

I advise everyone to step out of their comfort zones and also be open to Embassies in countries that are outside of Europe or our Western culture. This will not only be an enriching experience for you, but will also increase your probabilities of obtaining this internship.