After two successful and wonderful student exchange periods behind me, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Alicante, Spain, when time came to pursue my Practical Training Abroad, I didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity for more International Exposure and adventures ahead of me. I was not quite sure which field I would specifically like to complete my practical training in when I first began my search. As I have focussed greatly on the “International” side of my International Business studies, it felt natural to continue down this path. While on my Erasmus exchange period in Alicante, Spain, I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona two times. After living abroad for most of my life and constantly moving from place to place, I was still on the search for a place that felt like “home”. When I visited Barcelona for the first time, I knew immediately that this was it.
It was mid-August 2018, and I was on holidays in southern Spain with my parents, when I realized that the autumn semester was creeping up on me fast, and I was yet to find an internship for the autumn ahead. My friend had seen an advertisement on JAMK pages for Spain Internship, a company which helps students find internship opportunity options in Spain. This sounded like a great channel to pursue for my internship search. I filled in a profile online, selected my preferences for internships out of the many opportunities, and a few days later I received some interview requests.
One request was for an internship at Placement International, a company which offers internships and training opportunities in the hospitality industry, around the world in the most luxurious properties and restaurants. The interview was a success, and I passed onto the next stage, in which I was requested to answer a few more detailed questions about myself, my goals and motivations etc. Fortunately this was also a successful stage, and I moved to the final interview, which was conducted by the direct supervisor of the department I was applying for. A few hours later, an Internship offer showed up in my Inbox, and a few days later (after a quick visit to Finland to pack), I was on my way to my new home and internship in Barcelona.
My first week in Barcelona went by in a daze, during the days I worked at my internship and during the nights, I sorted all kinds of practicalities: searched for places to live, visited IKEA, tried to get to know the local areas better etc. By the end of the week I had found a lovely room in a nice area near my workplace, and I was settling in well to life in Barcelona.
A little bit more information about my internship: I completed my internship in the Visa Department of Placement International. Once the candidates had been hired in the USA by a host company, they would move into the visa process. My job would be to help the candidates from start to finish in securing their J1 (cultural exchange) visa. The internship included a lot of contact with the customers through both email and Skype. In addition, we maintained close contact with the partner organizations in the USA. My daily tasks required: high attention to detail, great time management skills, self motivation, conflict management skills, intercultural skills, exceptional customer management skills, stress management skills, quick and precise ICT skills among many others.
I believe the internship was a great learning opportunity to develop both my professional and personal skills. I really enjoyed the line of work as it had clearly defined objectives and goals that motivated me to work towards. The internship was very rewarding as well, as the customers we helped in the visa process were able to travel to the USA and pursue these internships and training programs in the USA because of our work.
I truly enjoyed my entire internship at Placement International and in Barcelona, and can definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding experience
Author: Pinja Viljaharju