If you’re wondering what to do after graduation or looking to spend your summer gaining some work experience, you may well be tempted to intern abroad. Many are tempted by Spain to develop their career prospects, and maybe improve their Spanish along the way. Here’s a look at how to get an internship in Spain, and some advice on a few of your best options.
There’s also a word of advice here on how to manage your finances while living overseas with a TransferWise multi-currency account, which comes with a free debit MasterCard.
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An internship is a type of work experience: it’s a short-term job at a low level, designed to teach you about the realities of working in a particular career. There are lots of options such as gap year internships, internships for first-year students, and graduate internships.
An internship is a great way to show potential employers that you don’t just have a degree to your name, but also some solid workplace knowhow.
Top Tip: In Spain, internships are called prácticas, and interns themselves are becarios or becarias.
There’s a lot of overlap between the terms “internship” and “placement”. They’re both types of work experience, and may well end up involving similar tasks. Especially in Spain, where placements are quite common.
Some degrees require you to do a work placement: this is another way to gain professional experience before applying for a full-time job, but in this case the experience will actually count towards your degree.
There are two key types of internship in Spain: student internships and graduate internships.
It’s common to do an internship as part of a Spanish degree – what we’d generally call a placement. These internships are regulated, so the best option here is to go via a specific scheme, ideally offered by your university or a reputable independent provider.
By contrast, internships for graduates are not so tightly observed. If you’re just looking for some general work experience after graduation, it may be possible to get an internship directly with a Spanish company.
It varies. If it’s part of your degree, it may well not be remunerated at all. However, it will depend on your individual internship. You also may be eligible for funding from an official body, that can help you to cover your living expenses while you’re abroad. As well as working, you’re there to gain experience, and should be learning a lot while you’re there. It could prove a good investment.
Nonetheless, paid or unpaid - you’ll need to pay for everyday expenses such as accommodation, food and perhaps even you’re phone bill. To make sure you’re money goes further, you’ll want to consider smart options such as getting a free international calls app, and a multi-currency account with a debit card, from TransferWise.
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You’ll also be able to receive money for free with local account details for Euro (as well as pounds, USD, Australian and New Zealand dollars) – meaning that you can receive money just like a local. Sign-up is simple and, even better, it's free.
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There’s no one way, of course, but here are a few pointers that will help you find the ideal internship or placement.
- Look for schemes: If you’re currently studying, see what your university has to offer: it may have partners in Spain, established schemes, or even just some useful contacts.
- Check out Erasmus Intern: Erasmus is the scheme through which you can study in Europe, but there are also Erasmus work placements via ErasmusIntern.org. There are lots of internships listed there across many categories.
- Approach your dream company directly: Boldness is a great quality in potential employees – and indeed in potential interns. If you have a fairly clear idea of what you want to do, find a few companies you’d particularly like to work for, and send them an email explaining why. Do check to see if they have any internship schemes first, though.
- Network! Get yourself to as many useful-sounding events as possible, talk to as many people as you can, spread the word. You never know where your best lead is going to come from.
At the time of writing, no, because the UK is still in the European Union. But you’ll have to watch this space and keep abreast of developments as the Brexit process continues.
Spain boasts a number of fantastic cities in which you’re bound to have an amazing experience. Don’t forget that, with an internship the most important thing is the work, so you may want to think more about the prospective company than the location. But location is still important, so here are some particularly examples of the places to be in Spain you could intern.
Barcelona is more than a tourist destination: there are lots of work and internship opportunities in areas including IT and engineering. It’s one of Europe’s top startup hubs, too.¹
Another city with startups galore is Madrid. The Spanish capital may have a very different atmosphere from Barcelona, but in terms of opportunities it is similarly rich and varied. It’s home to all manner of major international companies, from Deloitte to Mercedes to HP.
Seville isn’t as well known internationally as Barcelona and Madrid, but the capital of Andalucía has a population of some 700,000, with 50,000 students among them. There are all sorts of possibilities for interns, in everything from business to hospitality. It’s a beautiful and vibrant place to spend some time.
Wherever you choose to go, you'll have an amazing experience exploring your new city while gaining invaluable professional knowledge and skills. Don't forget to check out how TransferWise can help you save money while you are abroad.
Sources checked: 22 October 2019.
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