IEU Students @ Spanish Embassies and Consulates Around the World

@IE University

Two of the students who have participated in the internship this past summer, Coline Olivier (in Marseille) and Veronica Alvarez (in Miami), have shared their experience with us.

Every year, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation invites IEU students to apply, in at least three different occasions, to their internship program, which grants students of all bachelor degrees the opportunity to intern in Spanish Embassies and Consulates around the world.

Numerous students have enjoyed this incredible and enriching opportunity so far, and have joined the Spanish Ministry team at its Consulates and Embassies in places like London, Houston, Rio de Janeiro, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Dusseldorf, Houston, Panama, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, New York, or Denmark, among others.

Two of the students who have participated in the internship this past summer, Coline Olivier (in Marseille) and Veronica Alvarez (in Miami), have shared their experience with us.

 

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY?:

VERÓNICA: The opportunity to be able to work abroad in a Spanish Consulate was brought to my attention by my academic advisor. After speaking to him about the desire I had to work during the summer in a topic related to my degree, International Relations, he encouraged me to apply and ask for more information at the IEU Talent & Careers department. After understanding more about the internship, I decided that it was definitively something I wanted to experience due to the amount of knowledge I would gain during the three months.

 

WHY WAS IT APPEALING TO YOU?

VERÓNICA: I have always been interested in finding out how the diplomatic world works and how two nations can work together to reach their citizen’s needs. I thought that working at the Spanish Consulate in Miami would be a great opportunity to meet people who I could start great conversations with in order to learn about their everyday lives as diplomats/public officials. I wanted to learn more about the obstacles and the challenges that one faces as a diplomat, especially having to deal directly with the citizen’s issues.

 

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS?

VERÓNICA: In order to apply to the internship I had to be selected by the University first and then by the Spanish Ministry of Education. I had to fill in an application that resembled my CV and then write a short cover letter explaining why I was interested and why I was fit for the job. The process was carefully revised by the Ministry and took around one and a half months to be completed.

 

WHAT DID YOU DO AT THE CONSULATE?

COLINE: The main tasks that I was assigned to do were mostly office administrative work, like making calls and creating meetings for the Spanish consulate members. Furthermore, I was assigned to develop and manage databases, by registering the civils’ demands.  It was very interesting to notice the work of the Consulate members and the Spanish General Consul. Each department has its own tasks but the common point is that all of them are divided by steps, with a specific process to conclude them. The general consulate plays a very important role in helping citizens and businesses.

I learned the main tasks of a foreign mission by supporting the different activities performed by the Consulate’s department. The Spanish Consulate Corp in Marseille includes departments to acquire Passports and Nationalities. There is also a secretariat coordinating the smooth running of the administrations and assisting the Spanish General Consul in his daily tasks. Moreover, there is a Notarial service provided as well as the Civil Register in the Spanish Consulate, and the Accounting department.

VERONICA: After spending time paying attention and learning all of the administrative aspects of the Consulate, I had an understanding on how the bureaucracy works. This actually helped me build a lot of respect for the people that work there because they have to deal directly with the public, which can be extremely difficult. This helped me understand why some processes might take longer than others might and made me think of ways in which more communication can be established in terms of consulate to public relationships

One of my favorite aspects about working in the Consulate was the experience of helping the public face to face. It was very challenging because you have to decipher what they are asking for and then find what they are looking for. It is particularly difficult when they get impatient but what is most important is not to take things personally and try to help them either way.

I found it very tough when someone came with a personal economic issue that they needed help with from the government. I learned that the budget for each Consulate in regards to personal monetary aid is very tight, making these the worst cases. Additionally, the cases regarding crimes or certain inmates were the most interesting to me.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCLUSIONS AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS INTERNSHIP?

VERONICA: The highlight of my experience was making connections that I know will last a lifetime in my professional career. The fact that I could have intellectual conversations with the employees of the Consulate really helped me shape my point of view on working for a government in the future.

Many of my questions were answered because of the experiences of the employees after long years of working. For example, I had many doubts regarding working for a government that one does not agree with. For me, this would be a great challenge in the future, but I was given many tips and explanations that actually helped me settle my mind

COLINE: This internship was an opportunity to broaden my experience in a diplomatic office by witnessing how the administration is exercised in consulates. I learned valuable information and gained a professional experience. It was a very good human experience with a friendly and agreeable team.

 

Verónica Álvarez with other interns in the Consulate of Miami

 

Coline Olivier