#GOINGTOIEU

06/05/2024

The Dual Degree in Business Administration + Data & Business Analytics is designed to prepare students with an understanding of how they can use data to positively impact business growth. And like any IE University program, one of its central elements is the practical application of skills to the real world. Hands-on and immersive, internships give students the opportunity to do just that; it’s a chance to see how their program plays a vital role in their professional trajectory.

Thanks to IE University’s global network of companies, students like Sofía Martínez have the opportunity to land exclusive internships at impressive sector leaders such as BNP Paribas. Sofía perfectly demonstrates the IE University spirit: always in search of opportunities and looking for ways to develop both personally and professionally.

From Honduras to interning at an international bank

Originally from Honduras, Sofía Martínez secured an internship at BNP Paribas, working as part of the “automatization squad” within their human resources department. This was a technical role where Sofía could incorporate her data insights, but she also had the chance to develop her interpersonal skills in a leadership position within the intern community. Leading over 30 interns throughout their experience at BNP Paribas, Sofía discovered her professional voice and developed a multi-faceted skill set.

What was your role in the internship?

In my primary role in the “automatization squad,” I was tasked with managing large datasets—a cornerstone of our project goals. This responsibility entailed not only meticulous data handling and analysis but also translating this data into effective visualizations. These visualizations played a crucial role in communicating insights to stakeholders and were instrumental in driving strategic decisions within the department.

Moreover, I took on a proactive role in leading initiatives to automate and streamline processes. This involved identifying bottlenecks in existing workflows and proposing innovative solutions using automation tools. My efforts focused on enhancing efficiency and accuracy, aligning with the organization’s broader goals of operational excellence.

Working both as a technical team member and as a leader within the intern community provided a rich, educational experience. It honed my analytical abilities and leadership skills, teaching me the importance of bridging data-driven decision-making with effective team management. This experience was pivotal in shaping my professional outlook and enhancing my readiness for future challenges in the corporate world.

How was your experience at BNP Paribas?

My experience at BNP Paribas was incredibly enriching and rewarding. I was given significant responsibilities, such as leading the visualizations and database for the “automatization squad,” and I had the opportunity to present projects directly to senior management, including the CEO of BNP Personal Finance Spain and the HR Head of BNP France. The supportive and inclusive corporate culture at BNP Paribas greatly enhanced my experience.

What challenges did you experience and how did you overcome them?

One of the primary challenges I faced was my initial unfamiliarity with tools like Excel and Power BI, which were essential for my daily tasks. To overcome this, I took courses to advance my skills and received extensive guidance from a BNP instructor. Additionally, managing a high workload alongside my leadership responsibilities required me to refine my task management and prioritization strategies, which significantly improved my efficiency and effectiveness.

How did your internship contribute to your personal and professional growth?

Professionally, I gained strong technical skills in data management and analysis, which are crucial in my field of study. Personally, the experience helped me develop my interpersonal skills and leadership abilities, while also providing me with a deeper understanding of corporate dynamics. Moreover, being able to apply my academic knowledge in a practical and real-world setting enhanced my confidence and clarity about my future career path.

How did studying at IE University help you during the internship?

My studies at IE University equipped me with a strong foundation in data analytics and visualization, which I could apply directly during my internship. My classes introduced me to the theoretical aspects, which I could then practice and expand upon in a practical, professional environment. This background not only helped me tackle the technical aspects of my role but also provided a smoother transition into handling complex projects at BNP Paribas.

Sofia concluded with some useful words of advice for students considering undertaking a similar internship: “Focus on both technical and soft skills.” Specifically, she recommends that students gain proficiency in software like Excel and Power BI, and don’t underestimate the power of networking. Not only can building a professional network provide valuable career opportunities, but students will also gain interpersonal skills that are crucial for working in a team and making the most of an internship. “Engage actively in any available training and strive to take on leadership roles within projects to maximize learning and exposure,” she concludes.