Alumni Spotlight: Thomas DePauw

Stories that Shaped Us: Interning in Madrid

Thomas DePauw is currently an International Business and Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management double major at Illnios State University. He interned abroad with ISA in Madrid in 2021, and read below what he had to say about his time with us in Spain!

Why did you choose to do an ISA Internship in Madrid?

I have always been interested in learning Spanish, and had always wanted to visit Europe, so I decided that studying in Spain would be the best route to achieve both of those goals. I also studied abroad in high school, and my two top picks on locations were Japan and Spain, and when I studied abroad then, I made it to Japan, so I wanted to complete the other half of that desire by interning in Madrid!

How did you acclimate into your new role in Madrid and what kinds of professional takeaways do you have?

I acclimated quickly by immediately spending time out in the city and exploring, getting a feel for Madrid, what kind of food was around, the available shopping, and figuring out how I would get to and from work on a day-to-day basis. This really helped me feel more comfortable with the city, the people, and hearing the language frequently. I also made friends with other ISA interns and students so I would have people to explore the city with and help with figuring out some fo the deeper cultural things that I may not have noticed alone.

Can you talk a little bit about your daily life and role within your internship program and life abroad?

My average weekday consisted of arriving to the office in the morning and doing clerical tasks and working on projects for my company, and afternoons would be taken up by various meetings with the team and customers, both in person and via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. My role in my team was very much of a supportive role, but I was also the primary contact for foreign clients, especially those that felt more comfortable communicating in English rather than Spanish.

Could you briefly touch on your experience traveling and interning abroad during Covid-19, and any insights, growth, or lessons in resilience you may have gained due to these challenges?

I had a very rocky experience. I ran into a few issues with immigration into Spain at the airport, and once I made it through a few months later I contracted COVID. Needless to say, it was an eventful two months for me. But I think that because of these negative experiences I was able to grow and learn a lot about myself, as well as becoming a more resilient and positive person on the other side of the adversity. It definitely taught me that even if things get difficult, you just have to make the most of it and learn what you can from every experience. Even without these experiences, it was still difficult to be living and travelling during COVID-19, but ISA staff was extremely clear and helpful in providing all travel documents needed to travel to Spain and back, but personal research is also good to do to ensure you understand the full requirements, especially since regulations change very frequently.

What would you tell any student looking to work with or attend one of ISA’s programs in the future?

I would definitely tell them to take the leap! Even through the rocky experience I had, I was able to develop myself significantly personally and professionally and had a fantastic time living and working in Madrid. Also, even through some of the difficult experiences I had, ISA staff both in Madrid and in the US was always there and supporting me every step of the way, no matter what the situation was. Any students studying with ISA is in great hands with their great support systems!

Inspired by Thomas’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in an internship abroad? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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