NGO Internship in Madrid, Spain

Hello! My name is Elaine Louden and I am a Public Health and Spanish double major. I participated in the Fisher Summer Global Internship Program in Madrid, Spain. I worked for 8 weeks for a nonprofit organization called the Aladina Foundation ( as a Marketing and Communications intern where I edited their English website, performed Spanish-English and English-Spanish translations for their news articles and other documents, and attended press release events. Towards the end of my internship, I was able to assemble the marketing materials and create a google drive for an important publicity campaign for a charitable movie called “The Healer” that Aladina will be launching in the states this fall (look for it in theaters and on demand!).

During my internship abroad, I learned how self reliant I can be. I had never traveled by myself to another country before and I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone this summer. Despite being on an Ohio State program, I didn’t know anyone on the program prior to arrival in Madrid. I ended up making some really great friends from both my workplace and from Ohio State, as well as learning that I can navigate around foreign countries. I also learned how to be confident with my Spanish and just put myself out there, not worrying how I would sound to native speakers, because I wouldn’t have improved as much as I did without practicing. As a result, I am nearly fluent, and have learned so much about Spanish culture through their language. I really connected with my coworkers through talking with them in Spanish!

One of my coworkers who I really was able to connect with turned out to be one of my best mentors during my internship. We ended up eating lunch together most days of my internship and really got to know one another well. She helped me practice my Spanish and is one of the reasons my language skills improved so much during my time in Spain. I really valued having a friend in my office to eat with every day, I will definitely be staying in contact with her going forward.

This internship experience also was my first time living by myself without a meal plan. I was responsible for all of my meals, and had to shop and cook all of my own food for the first time. I found that I really enjoy going to the grocery store and cooking my own food, and am more excited for off-campus life this fall because I will finally have the freedom to be able to do this after living on campus for two years.

One other thing that pushed me to be more self reliant this summer was figuring out the extensive public transportation system of Madrid. I commuted to work on their metro, and used their bus and train system occasionally as well. This really gave me a taste of what life is like in a city with a great public transportation system, which I now appreciate after traveling to other cities with poor public transportation.

One final, work-related thing that really helped me to become more self reliant during my internship was practice. I put myself out there and practiced my Spanish, my translation skills, and my interpersonal communication skills, and would not have improved as immensely as I did without this. I worked hard every day of my internship to push myself accomplish this and stand by the (somewhat cliche) phrase “practice makes perfect”. Keeping myself accountable for all of this really increased my own self reliance.

I would like to go into Public Health consulting, specifically to work with international projects. To travel internationally, one must be comfortable interacting and collaborating with people from all walks of life, and my STEP project has truly helped to teach me this skill, as I worked in a 100% Spanish speaking environment, and have been able to see 7 cities in Spain, as well as cities in 6 other countries in Europe. My internship has improved my own self confidence because it pushed me to use my foreign language skills both in communication and in writing every day at work. It also helped me grow my love for international travel and for learning by experience.

This internship also opened my door to new career possibilities that I hadn’t previously considered as a Public Health major. I loved working in the NGO sector, and was also introduced to Corporate Social Responsibility. My STEP project has helped me to become an accomplished world traveler, a bilingual speaker, and a more confident communicator. Thank you, STEP, for everything you have helped me do with my international internship!

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