Doing an internship in Spain leads to a series of doubts and questions which we try to answer here under through 10 tips:
1) Clearly define your language and professional goals.
Don´t be either too ambitious or completely ambitionless. The key is to be realistic.
2) Do not plan an internship in Spain without testing your spoken and written level of Spanish.
If necessary, take a recovery course in Spanish before the start of your internship.
3) Write your CV and cover letter in Spanish.
It should be short, to the point and expose clearly what your skills and your goals are allthough make sure you state that you have a positive attitude and you are flexible. If possible, also think about the new ideas you can bring to the company during your internship: knowledge, methods, network of contacts, other languages that you master, etc. Limit your letter to one page when ever possible.
4) Obtain the maximum information possible about the company.
Before you arrive, you should check the veracity to avoid unexpected surprises. Do not suddenly land there. You can search on their personal webpage, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.
5) Once your internship is started, be always on time.
Even if the Spanish do not have the reputation of being so, reallity will surprise you and as a foreigner, you are expected to be punctual.
6) Check with your school on the dress code.
Most of the time, it will not be necessary to wear suit and tie, but check before just to make sure. Dress codes vary between positions and companies.
7) Learn Spanish codes of communication at work.
Do not be surprised if they call you by your first name and they use the the “tu” Pronoun right from the first day. The more formal “usted” can sometimes be misunderstood in Spain and give the impression that you try to keep a commercial distance.
8) Do not be shocked by the friendly gestures of Spanish at work.
A person of the opposite sex can easily welcome you with a kiss in the cheeck the first day; a guy can touch your shoulder without knowing you. These gestures are relatively common and are a courteous way to break ice in Spain.
9) Do not be surprised by coffee at 11 a.m.
Allthough it tends to dissapear, the 20 minute breakfast break continues to be widespread, at least in Andalusia. Tradition dictates that you drink coffee and eat sandwich with ham and olive oil.Your fellows expect you to join this “desayuno” which is a great opportunity for you to socialize with them. Furthermore, remember that Spanish schedule is completely different than the rest of Europe. Starting time is hardly ever before 9 a.m and lunch time is normally between 2 and 4p.m, so they can take the Spanish (siesta) nap and that is why they don´t usually make home before 8p.m.
10) Spain ´s officially working time has a minimum of 39 hours weekly.
This will easily jump quite often up to 42 – 45 hours due to the crisis. Regardless of the extended cliché, the Spanish are among the people that spend more time at work in Europe.
Head of Marketing and Deputy director, CLIC IH Sevilla.
Frederic has worked for Clic since 2007. He has a degree in foreign languages from the university of Toulouse and taught french as a foreign language for many years.
Why not take a look at other contributions by Frederic in this blog.