In the vibrant realm of humanities, IE University provides enriching internship opportunities that transcend traditional boundaries. Alfonso José Pérez López shares his transformative experience interning at Madrid's iconic Teatro Real, offering unique insights into the intersection of international business and the performing arts.

Thanks to IE University’s network of world-leading collaborators, our students also have the chance to land exciting and unique internship opportunities. Alfonso José Pérez López perfectly exemplifies what can happen when an ambitious young mind meets an outstanding opportunity for personal and professional growth—an internship at the world-renowned Teatro Real in Madrid.

A national and international cultural icon

From opera to dance, classical music to flamenco, the variety and quality of cultural events at the Teatro Real have brought it global recognition. In fact, it was named the best international opera theater in 2021. While a theater may not be the most obvious choice for a student of business and international affairs, for Alfonso it was a fantastic opportunity to get a glimpse into the international business side of the performing arts. We sat down with him to hear more about what he got out of this enriching experience.

How did your internship deepen your understanding of the cultural and historical aspects related to the humanities?
You get a true sense of what it’s like to run such a massive operation—things don’t happen spontaneously. The final performance is only the tip of the iceberg, the end result of a huge system. My experience made me realize how much work goes into a production for months in advance. This is something you’re not conscious of until you get to work in an institution like this, in the realm of the humanities.

Can you share a memorable moment or project that stands out?
The opening of the season was definitely a highlight. I was working in the International Development Department, which builds and develops alliances with other cultural organizations overseas, manages international tours and supports relations with embassies. We worked intensively caring for top VIPs, including the Spanish royal family. Despite the stressful moments, what remained most with me was the gratification of having contributed to such a massive event. It was also amazing to feel a sense of belonging to one of the most important cultural institutions in Spain, and probably Europe.

“My experience at Teatro Real made me realize how much work is done months in advance, before the pleasurable moment as a member of the audience watching an opera.”

Alfonso Jose Perez

How did it contribute to your personal and professional growth?
In the era of social media, many of us see messages stressing the importance of colleagues in the workspace and can be skeptical of their paramount importance at first. Teatro Real, from minute one, showed me how much of a positive impact colleagues can have in the workspace. Even when working alongside departments rather distant from mine, people were extraordinarily supportive of each other’s work, sharing a common sense of humor and closeness to their peers.

How did you overcome any challenges you faced?
At times, personal organization was somewhat challenging; dealing with so many leads, projects, tours and pending tasks can feel overwhelming. Nevertheless, I was always supported by my colleagues, whose sense of humor and humanist warmth made me feel a sense of belonging. Sharing space with such amazing people helped me overcome those few days when things didn’t seem to be working out as expected.

Alfonso and friends

“Every morning, upon walking through the artists’ and personnel entrance, you realize that the grand performance is merely the end result of a huge system across time.”

Alfonso Jose Perez

Did your time at Teatro Real provide you with new perspectives on the role of humanities in the world of theater?
I can’t speak of opera without sensing the role of the humanities. Opera, like any other art, is an imprint of human civilization, which is what makes us connect with it. The humanities are not extraneous to science. They are merely the manifestation of what we as human beings feel, think and do. Opera clearly portrays how we love, how we’re betrayed, how we feel hope. Without all these, opera wouldn’t speak to us at all. Even after over 400 years, we keep interpreting and listening to performances of Monteverdi’s “Orfeo.” There must be a reason why we do so.

An eye-opening opportunity
Completing an internship in a field he’s passionate about, at a world-leading cultural institution like the Teatro Real, left a deep impression on Alfonso. The insights and experience he gained will stand him in good stead for the rest of his program and beyond. Firsthand opportunities like this are a key part of the Dual Degree in Business Administration & International Relations, and just as critical as its rigorous academic content. Discover more about what the program could offer you here.