Every year, we welcome ambitious students who are seeking out new experiences and striving to learn as much as possible. And Maia Benzadon is no exception.
After living in many different countries, she came to IE University and seized every opportunity to further develop her skills. As a Bachelor in Behavioral and Social Sciences student, Maia worked with the Social Impact Lab to help underprivileged youth living with disabilities at Fundación Cadete. Even once the lab finished, she continued her work with the foundation, which has provided her with incredible opportunities to pursue throughout all aspects of her life. For Maia, gratitude and perspective are vital to developing her professional career and expanding her knowledge. Read on to learn more about her story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My life has been a bit of a rollercoaster. After being born in Colombia, I moved from country to country for 12 years before spending two in Brazil. I finally ended up in Madrid, where I’ve been living for the past six years. Although moving around so much was a lot to handle, it’s given me such a valuable perspective of the world, helping me understand many different cultures—especially as I attended international schools. I credit my open-mindedness and flexibility to this. Through all of these experiences, I’ve become super adaptable to any situation, allowing me to become the mature IE University student that I am today.
I chose to study the Bachelor in Behavioral and Social Sciences because of its interdisciplinary nature, allowing me to dip my toes in different areas like business, sociology, psychology, marketing, law, and data analysis. Having such a well-rounded education will only help push my career forward in the future.
Why did you decide to be part of the Social Impact Lab?
I first heard about the internship opportunity from one of the professors that organizes the lab. As soon as she said it would help us build our resume and career experience, I was hooked. I knew that getting an internship opportunity during first year was hard, so I figured it would be a great idea to get involved in something I enjoyed and could learn a lot from. Last October, I saw a Social Impact Lab stand at a labs fair in Segovia, and knew right away that it was the perfect lab to get involved in, since it combined marketing and helping people. One of my professors is the director of the lab and also encouraged me to take part, as she knew me, and could see that my personality and professional skills were a good fit. It wasn’t long before I’d committed to the experience and once-per-week meetings. In the beginning, we learned a lot about the foundations of marketing, from strategy to social media. I learned so much about aspects of marketing that I never knew before.
What was your experience like in the Social Impact Lab in your first year? What did you learn and what were some challenges?
My first-year experience in the lab was a wonderful opportunity that not only helped fill out my CV, but also challenged me in something new. As the social media planner on Fundación Cadete—a private, non-profit foundation that supports social integration for children with disabilities—I learned how to manage social media from a business perspective. It helped me understand Instagram insight analytics, how to create a marketing plan, how to approach different influencers, and how to build awareness for the foundation. My role also gave me the opportunity to work in a team, learn how to hit tight deadlines, build a more open mindset to criticism and comments, and become more adaptable to other team members’ ideas.
There were challenges, though. At first, it was hard for me to understand how to build a marketing plan, since it was something I’d never done before. After lots of research and relying on information from my peers and professors, I was able to learn how to do it well, a strength I’ll definitely carry forward into my career.
Although the pandemic meant we couldn’t visit the foundation as we planned to, this definitely challenged us to learn how to work with people across the globe in different time zones, and how to divide the work effectively and proactively.
How will your experience in the lab help your future?
The opportunity allowed me to discover my passion for social causes and helping others, and showed me how to put into practice different theories I learned in previous subjects. More importantly, though, my experience emphasized what I’d learned while living such a global life previous to my education: the importance of multiculturalism in non-governmental organizations.
Working with the foundation has definitely given my degree an edge. It’s given me a taste for how non-governmental organizations function, as well as how to apply psychology theory in practice when it comes to marketing and business. On a wider level, working in the lab has shown me that I’m able to make a difference and better the world through my work and expertise. It’s also helped me be grateful for the life that I have.
Did you continue your work after the lab finished?
I enjoyed the work I was doing so much that I had to find a way to somehow continue. Instead of packing my bags once it was over, I asked the foundation if I could continue working them for a month. They immediately agreed, since they really needed help with their social media marketing plan. I enjoyed the freedom of this month because I was working on my own and had more liberty to make decisions, like when to post on their social media channels and getting in touch with influencers. I’m so grateful for the experience, and for being able to continue working with them even after the in-class learning was over.
Maia has been able to jump-start her career by taking advantage of every opportunity that’s come her way, helping her build a strong personal and professional career.