Ben Anhoury is an Accounting and MIS double major set to graduate in May 2021. This summer he interned for Very Personal Coach in Barcelona, Spain.
If you worked on a big project during your internship, please describe what you did to help.
The company that I interned with, VPC, supports 5-10 clients at a time writing proposals and presenting to investor boards in the hopes of securing public or private funds. Many of the clients are startups in the development phase with amazing ideas with the potential to change the world, yet they lack the funding to get off the ground. My role in my internship at VPC was to extensively research the industries our clients were in to better understand pains, needs, and opportunities so that our proposals at the end of the process could be more convincing and realistic. I got to work with clients in a variety of industries such as airlines, nanocellulose and biodegradable packaging, sports science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, intellectual property, and so much more. I also supported VPC in writing and editing a number of proposals to European investment commissions and/or business angels, several of which were successful in receiving funding.
What did you find most challenging about your internship?
The cultural differences were certainly the most challenging part of the internship. In the US, work product expectations are defined and iterated in a much clearer way than in Spain. In Barcelona, communication styles are culturally much more indirect, and they don’t want to come across as overpowering when assigning tasks. For this reason, I would receive a task without knowing exactly what the end product should look like or how long it should take me, for example. I learned to simply do my best each and every day and ask questions along the way.
What advice do you have for other students that are also considering interning abroad?
If you have the opportunity to intern abroad in a country where you speak the language (other than English), you absolutely must take advantage of that. My Spanish was decent at the beginning of the summer, but now that I am almost done with the program, I can confidently say my Spanish skills have increased dramatically and I am so glad that I was able to practice them. Also, when considering where to study abroad, try to pick a location with a culture that you are least familiar with because this will be the most fun to explore and learn about. If you are able to intern abroad, you absolutely must take advantage of the opportunity because you get to travel, build your resume, and make lifelong friends all at the same time.
How did Eller (or your previous coursework) prepare you for your internship?
Eller directly prepared me for my internship as I came to Barcelona directly after first semester Eller. First semester Eller is filled with preparing proposals and reports and write-ups of all kinds. My internship was nearly the exact same kind of business writing, only in Spanish. It was fun to be able to apply everything that I had just learned in my Eller courses in the real world and in a different country! Also, my manager was certainly impressed with my knowledge of business writing, something Eller drilled into me which served me well.