Growing Entrepreneurial Skills in Barcelona

Growing Entrepreneurial Skills in Barcelona

Students in Barcelona

Fairfield Students in Barcelona (top, l-r) Mike Kabai, Roberto Ramos, Nathanael Rivera, Ashley Branco, Sam Goodwin (bottom, l-r) Connor Buckley, Courtney Hardy, Abby Dovan, Ariela Rodriguez

Two Fairfield Dolan students share their internship abroad experiences.

Internships are one of the hallmarks of a solid educational experience, a chance to put one’s academic skills to the test in the real world. But an internship overseas takes that experience to a whole new level.

Ariela Rodriguez ’20, a finance and economics major from Bridgeport, CT, was one of several Fairfield University students who spent last semester in Barcelona. She interned for the founder of Cowork Rambla Catalunya, a co-working office space.

By her own admission, Rodriguez generally likes to stay close to home, choosing Fairfield over other colleges partly because the campus is next door to her hometown. “But I always thought that if you’re offered a chance at something you should go for it. You shouldn’t always take the straight path,” she says. When she got a letter from the Study Abroad office stating that she had been recommended for a placement in Barcelona, she jumped at the chance to go.

“I was pretty nervous to go abroad for four and a half months.  It was way out of my comfort zone,” she says. “But it’s been a whirlwind of a year for me. I feel so much more mature. Living abroad made me realize that I want to do more in my life, like travel.” Rodriguez’s placement was in marketing, so she learned to create marketing material brochures, reports and other documents that her boss needed for clients. It was a facet of business that the finance major hadn’t experienced before. 

Rodriguez’s Fairfield Dolan classmate Roberto Ramos ’20 pursued the same program in Barcelona–both students were recommended for their outstanding academic achievements. Ramos, a business management major with a concentration in human resources, interned for a different company within the same co-working space as Rodriguez. He took classes at Instituto Quimico de Sarria while working for Abi Global Health, a health insurer that uses AI technology to assist travelers.

“I was working for the sales team doing lead generation,” Ramos says. That meant a lot of communication across borders, contacting people all over Europe, and putting his Spanish language skills to the test.

Both students say they became aware of cultural differences that they never would have learned in a classroom. Working hours are more flexible than they are in the U.S., for example, and it wasn’t unusual for people to come in at 10 a.m. There’s the traditional two-hour lunch break in the afternoon, and the workday extends later into the evening. Figuring out the transportation system in a large, foreign city is a challenge. Most interesting to both, however, was the atmosphere in the shared office space.

“There were all these startup companies with people from all over the world,” says Ramos, who lived in Spain for a while as a child. “Each was passionate about getting their ideas out. Everyone was doing their own thing, yet we were always interacting.” The companies not only shared expenses, they shared ideas. Working each day in this rich multi-cultural, international and dynamic atmosphere is something both say they would not have experienced at home.

Tags:  Dolan School


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