Internship experiences from UE grads

David McDonald '06

Spanish and Business Major
Completed two internships and 2 degrees, a B.A. and a B.S in 4 years.
Global Sales and Product Development Manager
Do it Best Corp.

I was fortunate to have the enriching opportunity during my undergraduate studies at UE to partake in two unique internship opportunities in Mexico City. The first summer, thanks to a UE professor in the school of business, I was connected with an entrepreneur in Mexico City who ran a mid-size marketing firm there. The internship was not only my introduction to a formal professional environment in Latin America, but it was also my introduction to the professional work environment in general. As such, I benefited in a huge way by learning the basics about how this type of an organization functions. My specific role was to do market research which was challenging given my lack of background in the industry. Nevertheless, I was able to figure it out and learned a great deal from my colleagues through the process. Even more enriching during this first internship experience were the life lessons learned outside of the office. I was living in one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world, and the roommates I was blessed to find really helped me to learn about the local customs and culture.

My second summer internship experience in Mexico City was equally life-changing. As I had been able to learn the basics during the previous summer, this internship helped me learn more about business operations. This position was with the local franchisee of a large and well-known U.S. restaurant chain. My role was crafted to make observations about how the franchisee was doing and also assist in any way that I could. I worked full time doing myriad tasks such as translating work manuals, participating in company meetings, and even helping in the kitchen of one of the local restaurants.

The success I have enjoyed so far in my professional career is inextricably linked to these international internship experiences. I am convinced that these experiences gave me a head start in starting my professional career after graduation by equipping me with both business and culture lessons that otherwise are learned only during the course of one's career. I started working in international sales just after graduating from UE, and I have traveled all around the world on behalf of my company. I currently manage our efforts in sourcing and international supplier development. I use Spanish every day in my work and have found this to be an invaluable skill to have in today's global workplace. Having majored in Spanish at UE was one of the best decisions I ever made as none of this would have been possible for me to do without this vital skill. My sincere gratitude to UE for putting such a strong focus on foreign language and equipping me to be successful as a global professional.

Durante mis estudios en UE me tocó la suerte de realizar dos distintas pasantías en la Ciudad de México. En la primera, gracias a uno de los profesores de la Escuela de Negocios, hicimos una conexión con un empresario en México que tenía una firma de marketing. La pasantía no sólo fue mi introducción al ambiente de trabajo profesional en América Latina, sino que también fue mi introducción al entorno laboral en general. Como tal, yo me beneficié mucho aprendiendo de todo un poco acerca de los elementos básicos de cómo funciona este tipo de empresa. Mi papel específico era de investigación de mercado lo cual me era difícil dado mi falta de experiencia en la industria. No obstante poco a poco fui entendiendo más y también aprendí mucho de mis colegas a través de esta experiencia. Fueron aún más enriquecedores las experiencias que tuve fuera del trabajo, viviendo en una de las ciudades más vibrantes y dinámicas del mundo con compañeros latinos que me enseñaron bastante sobre las costumbres locales y la cultura mexicana.

Mi segunda pasantía en la Ciudad de México cambió igualmente mi vida de manera positiva. Como ya había aprendido lo básico el verano anterior, esta pasantía me ayudó a profundizar mi conocimiento sobre las operaciones particulares de los negocios. En esta ocasión, trabajé con el franquiciatario local de una cadena americana muy conocida de restaurantes. Mis responsabilidades se basaron en aprender todo lo que pude acerca del franquiciatario y cómo le iba y también en ayudar donde sea que necesitaran ayuda. Trabajé a tiempo completo e hice una variedad de tareas como traducir manuales de trabajo, participar en reuniones de la empresa e incluso ayudar de vez en cuando en la cocina de una de las sucursales.

El éxito que he disfrutado hasta el momento en mi carrera profesional se ha dado gracias en parte a estas experiencias como pasante internacional. Estoy convencido que estas experiencias me dieron una ventaja en el inicio de mi carrera profesional equipándome con las lecciones de vida, cultura y negocios que uno normalmente sólo experimenta a través de los años de una carrera. Comencé a trabajar en ventas internacionales justo después de haberme graduado de UE y he viajado por muchos países del mundo desde entonces. Actualmente me encargo de nuestros esfuerzos en el desarrollo de proveedores e importaciones directas. Utilizo el español todos los días en mi trabajo y lo veo como una herramienta vital para entorno global de hoy en día. Haber especializado en español en UE fue una de las mejores decisiones de mi vida y nada de esto habría sido posible sin esta destreza vital. Estoy agradecido a la Universidad de Evansville por haber tenido un enfoque en las lenguas extranjeras y por haberme armado para ser un profesional global de éxito.

Cari Kauffman Dahling '07

Spanish and Business major (BS and BA and an internship in 4 years)

I had a great experience utilizing the FL 420 internship to fulfill some needed credit hours while obtaining real world experience in a business environment and improving my fluency in Spanish. During the summer break between my junior and senior year at UE, I worked full time as a Human Resources Intern at Pearson Education in Indianapolis. One of my primary duties was to work with the warehouse managers to determine seasonal hiring needs and then review applications, conduct interviews, hire the necessary staff, and facilitate new employee orientation. A large number of our applicants were Spanish speakers with little to no English ability. As such, the first project of the summer was to translate all of our materials (including employment applications, employee information documents, employee manuals, and training documents) into Spanish for our Spanish speaking new hires. After the documents were translated, I helped create a new orientation program for all employees and conducted orientation sessions for both English and Spanish speakers. I also served as a bilingual contact in the HR department for employees to contact for HR issues that came up in their jobs.

Aside from the purely administrative aspects of my position, I started a monthly program to highlight the diversity of the employees. I commandeered a bulletin board in the cafeteria/break room where we featured the hometowns, holidays, traditions, etc. of our employees. During the World Cup, we created a large tournament bracket and featured the employee’s favorite teams to spur conversations and friendly rivalries between all of our employees, not just the Spanish speakers. It was nice to interact with employees on a more personal level and not just in my capacity as a member of the HR staff.

Ultimately, I decided to pursue a law degree and now practice as a creditor’s rights attorney in Chicago. So while I am in a different industry and environment, the skills I learned during my FL 420 internship have given me valuable experience in business, life, and every day communications. Opportunities to use my Spanish skills in the office are rare, but on occasion I’ve had to act as an impromptu interpreter in court or communicate with non-English speaking pro se litigants. I try to keep my skills fresh with frequent travel to Spanish speaking countries when I am able!