For the last couple of years, IE University has received a number of grants from Banco Santander for students wanting to do internships at small- and medium-sized companies in Spain over the summer.
Students are informed via IE Talent & Careers, and apply for this opportunity online. If selected, they receive a list of over 3000 participating companies they can contact depending on their interests.
This is a great opportunity for students to find out what working at a smaller business is like.
Paula Oliver and Marcia Tetzlaff (Dual Bachelor in Business and International Relations), Esperanza Harumi (Bachelor in Psychology), and Xenia Greenhalgh (Bachelor in International Relations) are among the students selected for the summer 2018 intake. Here they’ve shared their experiences with us.
Where are you interning as part of the ‘Becas Santander’? What’s your role?
Esperanza: I am interning at WifiAway in Madrid, a startup created by an IE alumnus a couple years ago offering fast internet without contracts. I do a bit of everything, from physical processing of devices to other kinds of operations that are needed for wifi services.
Paula: I am interning at Kiriom Smart Growth, a consulting firm in the heart of Madrid. My official position is Analyst but I do multiple tasks, from drafting proposals to being Kiriom’s Community Manager, to preparing surveys, researching, or doing secret shopping.
Xenia: I’m interning for Small Sea Investments SLU, helping the director with market research for a potential minigrid-related business venture in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Marcia: Espacio Geranios is a co-working space with a focus on social entrepreneurs, and it also offers the rental of spaces for events or workshops. It was founded by people coming from the non-profit sector wishing to promote social innovation and entrepreneurship in Spain by giving it, quite literally, space. This was an interesting opportunity for me as it mixes topics from both my degrees, Business Administration and International Relations, like accounting or marketing, but in the realm of social entrepreneurship.
How did you hear about the opportunity?
Esperanza: I actually heard about ‘Becas Santander’ during my first year of university, because a friend of mine got the grant and was really happy with his experience. I kind of forgot about it until I was checking the IE Talent & Careers email; I was looking for internship opportunities, saw it, and applied.
Paula: A friend of mine interned last summer at Ethics magazine thanks to ‘Becas Santander.’ She told me about her experience and the wide range of possibilities the program offers and I decided to apply.
Xenia: I stumbled across the opportunity in an email from the careers office, and quickly applied!
Marcia: I was trying to find an internship in Madrid because I wanted to consolidate my Spanish before going on exchange next semester, so I started applying for various opportunities through the career portal of IE University. To apply, you have to get your CV approved, so I was in contact with Talent & Careers via email. After reviewing my CV, they recommended that I apply for the ‘Becas Santander’ and it was a great way to find the type of internship I was looking for.
What can you tell us about your internship experience so far?
Esperanza: Working at a small company is very exciting because there’s something to do every single day. It’s different from working in a big company because here you have to fulfill your tasks in order for everything to run smoothly. I am constantly completing tasks and I see the results of the things I’m doing immediately. I had worked in big companies previously, so working in a small- or medium-sized business was really attractive for me. It allowed me to experience a different type of work environment and different interactions with people.
Paula: So far it has been very fulfilling. Being such a small business, with only three people working full time, my contribution is deeply valued and needed. I have responsibilities and work on several projects at the same time, allowing me to learn vastly from very different industries in a short period of time. Also, the variety of tasks that I perform is so wide that I am continuously learning: from managing data in Excel, to conceptualizing it in professional PowerPoint presentations that will be presented to our clients, and researching. Furthermore, since we are so few, I can provide my colleagues with my personal input, and they take it into account. They value the way I would do things and they take it into consideration, giving me freedom to be creative while making a business proposal to a client and so on.
Xenia: So far, the experience has been both enriching and challenging. The director has been an excellent mentor, and I have not only learned a lot about business-related skills like market research, but also about international relations, energy security, renewable technologies, and regulation.
Marcia: I liked the idea of working in a smaller company because, in my experience, they tend to integrate interns more and give them more to do, as every additional helping hand counts to make progress. Thus, although you won’t have a fancy name on your CV, in the end, you will have gathered more valuable experience than in most big corporations.
What would you highlight about this experience?
Esperanza: The thing that I love the most about my job is the relationships that I’m building with my coworkers. The group is really nice. Everyone comes from different cultural backgrounds and they are really open to hearing about your life experiences to understand your way of thinking. Besides that, working in something that is not directly connected to my degree also gave me a broader view of the things I could do in the future.
Paula: Something that I would highlight is the degree of responsibility that I have and the learning path I’m following. I feel like I have progressed significantly in the past two months. The first weeks I didn’t even know what a business proposal was in consulting, and now I do them myself with the freedom to decide what will be included within each of the blocks covered. Furthermore, interning at such a small firm allows me to work closely and directly with Kiriom’s top management, as well as to receive feedback from them. Overall, the experience has been very enriching and fun.
Xenia: The experience has taught me a lot, and made me excited about entering the job market next year. It’s extremely rewarding and motivating to be paid to do a professional internship in a field that interests you.
Marcia: Working in a small company is great: no one here forces me to work too hard, but everyone is still very passionate about advancing the project so once you do start putting in some effort, it will be received with open arms and kind words. One example is a marketing plan that I helped create and with a strategy that I developed. It is a great feeling to know that you have an impact on the company and that your work is not only valued but also implemented.
What would you tell students who are interested in applying next year?
Esperanza: Apply as soon as you can! There are tons of companies looking for interns and since they actually need your help, you won’t be doing useless stuff. Take the opportunity to get a new kind of experience in a field that maybe you didn’t picture yourself in. It’s a great chance to learn new skills, add something to your CV, and have fun!
Paula: Make an effort in the next semester and work on your GPA. Once you are given a spot in the program, be honest with yourself when looking at the list of companies and look for the ones that you would really like to work for, or the ones that you feel you will be most helpful at. You will realize whether you made a good choice or not as soon as you get to the interview with the firm, and having a good cultural/character fit will be crucial to getting the internship.
Xenia: Apply! It’s an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge and skillset.
Marcia: What I would highlight about the experience of working in a small company is that you will have the opportunity to make yourself a memorable part of it. To anyone considering applying for the ‘Becas Santander’ in the coming years: if learning by doing is the best method, this is the best way.