A remote internship presents new challenges that an in-person internship can’t address. CAPA Barcelona student Charles Klempay talks about his nonprofit internship placement in Spain and how he adjusted to a new way of working to contribute to a great cause abroad. He also covers how this experience helps students embrace a global environment.
The job market today is becoming more competitive than ever. To build a resume strong enough to be hired takes not just skills in the required field but experience as well—experience which students can gain through internships. The market today is also global. Employees are expected to work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, which tests their ability to adapt and overcome the cultural differences that divide them.
What CAPA offers through their global internship program prepares future job candidates for this global environment by opening their minds to the differences between the world’s cultures and teaching them to understand and accept them. The arrival of COVID-19, along with border closures and country-wide quarantines, has highlighted the importance of global internships in the fight to stay connected with the countries around us as we navigate the world we now live in.
Holding a sign for awareness.
I chose to participate in CAPA’s Remote Global Internship option for fall 2020 after my study abroad plans were canceled, and, unsure of when borders between countries would reopen, I saw the advantage of being able to work with a company overseas at a time when opportunities like this are now rare. Through my previous experience working at a refugee resettlement agency, I developed a strong interest in working with a non-profit, which I found through my internship placement with Homeless Entrepreneur—an organization based in Barcelona, Spain. Homeless Entrepreneur’s goal, “to promote economic empowerment and poverty reduction via work and active citizenship”, links directly to my desire to help people while gaining valuable work experience.
I was unsure of what to expect going into my internship, but I knew I was excited to gain insights into the workings of a company abroad. I wanted to see how the company’s work culture and styles of management differ from American companies, and how different backgrounds shape people’s global perspectives.
Corporate social responsibility is important in the global community.
Throughout my internship, I’ve been writing articles for Homeless Entrepreneur’s blog, which has given me the chance to interview many people: fellow interns, homeless entrepreneurs who are part of the company’s program, members of the staff, as well as members of the global community who are interested in aiding our mission by providing insights. I’m learning not just about what is required to make an article effective, but also how to reach out and communicate with people through social media and networking to find the information I need. The perspectives of those who I have connected with, as well as the research I’ve done while writing, have illustrated just how important it is to broaden one’s own perspective beyond the country one lives in.
Myself (right) and Marcus (left) in Oakland in Pittsburgh, PA. Marcus has been homeless since 2013.
A remote internship presents new challenges that an in-person internship can’t address. For example, my internship site in Barcelona is six hours ahead of my Eastern Standard Time zone in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is my responsibility to manage the differences in time zones and adjust accordingly. Failing to do so affects not only myself but my coworkers as well. With cross-cultural teams working side-by-side in different time zones, this internship has helped prepare me for managing the problems associated with a global team and working around individual team members’ commitments.
On top of this, working remotely can be a minefield of distractions. Your constant connection to electronic devices such as your personal device or laptop threatens to drag your attention away from tasks every minute, and it is only by establishing a strict schedule that I myself can stay focused. Therefore, on top of improving my communication skills, I learned the value of proper time management. It is without a doubt one of the most useful and transferable skills required to excel in a new environment, and CAPA emphasizes its importance immediately when your internship begins.
A work photo for Homeless Entrepreneur's social media.
A global internship should be a challenge. It should break you out of your comfort zone and push you to think about problems in ways you have previously never considered, all while contending with a way of life you’re unfamiliar with. A remote global internship does this and more. It’s not meant to be easy, or else everyone would do it. What it shows is the determination of the intern to grow culturally, as well as their eagerness to learn about the country they are working in while managing time zones and an independent work schedule. The greatest benefit I have taken away from my Remote Global Internship experience is that I will never view the world through the same lens again, and I am grateful for it.
Charles Klempay is a CAPA Barcelona student. He is interning remotely through CAPA for Fall 2020.