I just finished my first year of the IB at EF Academy Oxford and had the amazing opportunity to work as an intern in Mexico City. It was an unforgettable experience. I learned valuable lessons that I would have never learned in school.
Even though I was technically assigned to the marketing team, I got a taste of many other departments inside of EF Mexico.
For example, I would call the universities and ask them about their information such as location, postal code, directors and head of the language department to update the information that was in their system. This would allow EF to send them information about themselves. It was quite challenging because all this had to be done in Spanish. Luckily, I did learn Spanish in the past so I didn’t struggle as much; however, it was a totally different approach. We had to choose polite words and a calm tone so that the school would provide their information. I learned how to treat and serve the potential customers and stakeholders in order to easily get information from them along with giving a positive impression of the company.
I also checked about 200 websites that could be relevant to EF and the popularity of those websites. I made a huge table about PA and DA of those websites. This was to provide options for the marketing team so, later on, they could choose which website was best to promote their services.
I made maps and directions of schools that EF would like to visit in the north and south of Mexico City. It was unexpectedly hard because I wasn’t so familiar with maps and creating directions. The problem was that I had to do this for eight or nine schools and calculate the time and directions from one school to other one. So, I needed a lot of directions to show. That wasn’t possible in Google Maps because it would connect every school at once and calculated the total distance between them. I solved this problem by searching it in the internet and researching about it. Now, I have a better understanding of how I can use maps to save some time and to schedule future plans. I also learned the importance of time and organization for a company.
I presented a presentation about South Korea to all the staff of Central EF Mexico. It wasn’t hard preparing for it but one of the staff members suggested I do the presentation in Spanish. I have done a lot of presentations in the past but doing it in Spanish was a whole different thing. I was quite nervous but the staff members supported me and helped me be more confident. It was an awesome experience.
Some specific things I learned are:
- The information should be 100% correct and sited (especially when from a secondary source).
- Information is important but the way it is presented is also important. (When providing factual information don’t make it all fancy, make the people watching or reading your information clearly understand the facts you are saying, same font or color, and same structure of the information being presented).
- You can do what you want during the time given (eat, have a snack, get fresh air), but finish the work at the end.
- When you face a problem, ask! There might be a person that could help you or at least discuss the problem.
- Be professional when at work. Even if you had a huge night out (with the company or not), you should be professional and come well prepared for work the next day.
- Work the way that best fits you.
- Be respectful to each other.
- Enjoy your work! You will work better if you enjoy it!
One of the best moments in the office was when I was when I had to check information on over 2000 students. The process to check each student was getting quite repetitive and was very slow; about an hour to check 200 students. So, I decided to make this job easier. I did some coding work and made a file that allowed me to gather all the information at once. Now, I could select a bunch of students at once (maximum 500) and get all the information I needed all at once. I showed this to the staff that assigned me this job and explained her how to use it. She was very pleased with the result.
I didn’t know so much work and organization was put into the EF campuses in order for their students (us) to enjoy their studies. I also learned that there were tons of departments and roles inside a company like EF. It isn’t so simple. Some are in charge of promoting their service to universities and some are in charge of consulting parents and some are in charge of actually selling the service. Different teams sell different services to different locations. When solving problems, individual work or not, people talk, give advice and work together to solve it. It’s like a big family. What I saw was that the staff at EF Mexico doesn’t make their work feel like a task but more like a process to reach their own goal.
The other fascinating thing was the experience I had in Mexico itself. It was like a whole different world staying there. The people, food, culture, building, art and so many things are all unique and wonderful. I looked at a bunch of museums, parks, street art, famous places and I tried all types of Mexican food including various types of delicious tacos, burritos, enchiladas, flautas, fried cheese and chapulín (grasshopper).
The people in the EF office were one of the most friendly and joyful people I’ve ever met in my whole life. Lots of people introduced themselves to me even though I wasn’t working in their department and nobody forced them or told them to do it. Thanks to that, I began to know a lot of people in the office. They answered all my questions either inside or outside of the office as precisely as they could. They cared and looked after me as I was a part of them. The people in the office took their office time and also their own free time to show me around Mexico in order for me to have the best time I could in Mexico. I was totally astonished with the kindness that they provided me. Thanks to all of this, I didn’t even have the chance to miss my home.
To tell you guys the truth, the main reason I applied to this internship (like you guys had expected) was mainly to tell the universities that I was a student that has had work experience and was very interested in the subject I was applying for, Business. Basically, to make my CV and personal statement sound a little better.
However, I realized I was too childish. Don’t get me wrong, this IS one of the reasons why students try so hard to gain work experience, but don’t make it the ONLY reason. The experience you get as an intern isn’t just a piece of line that you would later write in your CV or personal statement. This experience makes you grow as a more mature person. I am taking back incalculably valuable things with me, and they are called experience (that comes from solving problems and facing challenges), understanding (of life both outside of school and our comfortable environment), personal growth/development and a bigger vision of your future career. It might sound a bit silly, but it is the truth. You will never understand something or even understand someone unless you are in that particular situation. That’s why so many universities look for work experience with the student. They want the students to have experience or at least have a general idea of how the career they choose will look like.
I truly enjoyed my fascinating experience in Mexico and also with the staff. I highly recommend you to take this opportunity if it ever does come to you. It won’t be so easy to get it, but I promise you. It’s totally worth it.
P.S. Thank you EF Mexico, I really learned so much and enjoyed everything in Mexico with all my heart. Again, muchisimas gracias