How To Get a Spanish-Speaking Internship
“Wisdom isn’t about accumulating more facts; it’s about understanding big truths in a deeper way.”
–Melinda Gates, The Moment of Lift
There is no better way to put your education into practice and improve your cultural competency than getting an internship in the real world! You can acquire heaps of knowledge in academia, but until you apply what you have learned in a work environment, you will not fully understand the ‘truths’ of the working world.
Internships prepare you for life after school in a very real way. Spanish-speaking internships serve a dual-purpose – they strengthen your language skills and develop your business skills.
Spanish-speaking internships are an important next step not only for those who seek to major or minor in Spanish but also for anyone who wants to enhance their language skills.
Working abroad will make your résumé stand out by showing that you can get outside your comfort zone and adapt to new experiences. It will also strengthen your cross-cultural communication skills and global awareness. Even if you choose to stay put in the USA you can achieve these skills since you will be working with other Spanish-speakers who will bring new perspectives and viewpoints to light.
Global and cultural awareness not only enhance your personal growth but benefit the future company you will work for after graduation! Check out this blog to learn more about how speaking Spanish will increase your competitive edge, connect you with people on a deeper level, and help you fully grasp the meaning behind what is being said in your business meetings. It is also more fun and rewarding to communicate with people in their native language.
Should You Stay in the USA or Intern Abroad?
Go abroad if you can!
Spanish immersion is simply the best option to enhance your language skills. You will be able to speak Spanish during the workday as well as ‘after hours,’ thus increasing your fluency. Moving abroad opens the door to living with a Spanish-speaking family or roommates – and it will get you out of your comfort zone of always falling back to English. Plus, it is so much fun to explore new places!
According to Rosetta Stone, the best places for English speakers to learn Spanish are:
- Ecuador – You will have access to plenty of language schools, low cost of living and the Spanish here is easier to understand than some other dialects.
- Colombia – The locals speak at a steady pace making the language easier to understand. This place is loaded with history and art, as well as good coffee.
- Argentina – Often called the ‘Europe of South America’ – known for its beautiful Spanish rhythm, good soccer team, carne, plus so much more!
- Guatemala – Home of Spanish Academy in beautiful colonial Antigua – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Sign up for Spanish classes today and ask every question under the sun about when to visit and what to see in Guatemala! Known for true natural beauty, friendly people and active traditional Mayan culture.
- Spain – ¡Ay! Go to where the language all began. This country is full of art, history, beautiful architecture and castles. Be sure to bring your handbook on vosotros!
- ¡Y más! (and more!) – There are so many amazing Spanish speaking places to travel to, it is difficult to narrow them down or choose just one!
Experience Spanish in the USA!
The USA has 41 million Spanish speakers alone! If you prefer to stay close to home, there are many options to improve your language skills. Reach out to your school’s language department to see what opportunities are out there or speak with a local Latino store to see if they require summer help with their business.
Another option is interning in a new city for the summer –seek out a location with a dense Spanish-speaking population such as California, Texas or Florida.
You will be saying this in no time! Ya me voy, compañeros, ¡hasta manana! Recuérdenme , ¿dónde está el supermercado que vende plataninas? (I’m leaving guys, see you tomorrow! Remind me, where is the supermarket that sells the plantain chips?)
Where To Start
A plethora of internship opportunities are out there – you will need to seek out those that suit your interests and school schedule. Internship programs vary in length – typically being three to 12 months – and can range from unpaid to weekly stipends to fair wages.
Here are a few options to begin your search:
- CIA offers undergraduate internships where you can use Spanish.
- Simply Hired lists numerous internships in the USA from Environmental Education to HR.
- Go Abroad for interns ranging from Personal Training, Health Coaching, Photography to Broadcasting in Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador
- Spain Internship has openings available in Education, IT/Design and Engineering, Management, Business, and Tourism. They have positions where you don’t speak any Spanish, but there are more options available if you do have a better grasp of the language.
- Máximo Nivel offers amazing opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru
- Tend to alpaca herds in Peru or harvest coffee in Brazil with Latin American Internships
- Teach English as a Foreign Language. These opportunities typically pay pretty well and enable you to move abroad.
- Here is an exciting opportunity in NYC at NBC Universal Telemundo Enterprises in Spanish Language Journalism
The Importance of Networking
Applying to those big companies with complex résumé-screening processes and costly advertising campaigns means lots of competition! You may find yourself not getting the responses that you anticipated. To expedite the search process, it is important to make connections.
Reach out directly – call and write to companies you would like to work for. Many language schools have connections to local companies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) who need someone to ‘volunteer’ or ‘intern’ at their organizations.
For example, you could reach out to an orphanage in Latin America who needs your early childhood education or speech therapy training onsite. You could even help an NGO with grant writing and put your creative writing skills to use.
Start your search today:
- This blog lists the Top 25 Must-Follow NGO’s in South America – amazing opportunities from promoting children’s rights to saving wildlife in the Amazon rainforest
- Teach soccer in a Spanish-speaking country through Coaches Across Continents
- Work at an NGO in Spain and interface with the press department, logistics, projects, legal or fundraising teams
- Doctors without Borders offers Internships in NYC. The experience here could get your foot in the door for a transition abroad to a Spanish-speaking location
- Intern in Los Angeles (where approximately 3.5 million people speak Spanish) with the American Red Cross
- Adelante Abroad lists NGO international internships in Spain, Chile, Ecuador or Mexico ranging from grassroots to more established organizations.
- Search here to intern in Education or Human Rights in Ecuador, National Park Conservation in Costa Rica or Public Education in Colombia
What Should My Résumé Include?
First of all, know the correct lingo – most other countries don’t use the word résumé; they use CV (which stands for curriculum vitae – Latin for “the course of your life”); Spain uses CV and Latin America uses CV, currículum, or currículo.
Like any job that you apply for, résumés for Spanish-speaking internships should be tailored to the job for which you are applying. Be sure to apply for the internship in the language it is posted in; for example, if the job description is in Spanish, you should apply in Spanish.
As much as we envision a human reading piles of résumés and reviewing each one carefully, this is becoming increasingly uncommon in the USA. Why? No one has time to peruse hundreds or thousands of documents and therefore, résumés are scanned by software that ‘sort and find’ relevant applications for the employer.
For example, if 500 people apply for one internship, the software will scan each one and perhaps find 10% that meet the job description criteria. The employer will most likely personally review those 50…or not.
If you want to increase your chances that your résumé gets read by a human, tailor it to fit the job. In other words, do NOT send the SAME résumé to every internship opportunity you come across – each employer (and their software) is ‘looking’ for different attributes.
List Languages On Your Résumé
Be sure to state your Spanish proficiency level – even if you are just starting out. Review this blog for the inside scoop on what employers are looking for.
In order to determine your level of fluency, obtain your CEFR level. The CEFR is the most commonly used system to rank English language skills, however, it is widely recognized worldwide to mark other language levels. To officially determine your language level, you would need to take a formal test; for Spanish it is DELE and for English it is TOEFL. In place of taking the official DELE which can be costly, you can download a sample professional exam to determine your language level.
Some companies will be happy to have you to help out in their business and put your Spanish skills to work – no matter what your level is. Others may require advanced (B2 level or more) to full fluency (at least a C1 level).
Whatever the case, you can work to begin to work towards fluency today with Spanish Academy!
Be Realistic and Open-Minded
If your language level is elementary (A1-A2) or intermediate (B1-B2), you may have to settle for lesser tasks to gain experience using Spanish. In other words, the better your Spanish, the more advanced the internship opportunities. This should not stop you, though! In the big picture, this is NOT a sacrifice but an enhancement to your cultural competence, language skills, and real-world experience. Many of us don’t exactly know what we want to do with our degree as graduation approaches – but gaining skills abroad may help you determine your next step.
Real-World Example on Landing an Internship
I have a friend, Mari, who wanted to live abroad and improve her Spanish-speaking skills. Mari got in touch with a Guatemalan language school and they helped direct her towards internship opportunities in the area. A small-scale company needed her help translating Spanish to English – and she landed an internship! The pay wasn’t significant – only a small stipend – but she figured that once she got some experience and improved her Spanish, then she could be eligible for a higher-paying opportunity.
Mari began her internship speaking beginner to intermediate Spanish and after a few months living in Guatemala, her Spanish was nearly fluent. She also discovered her true passion by interviewing people one-on-one — Counseling and Social Work. If she had balked at the meager stipend and refused to leave her comfort zone in the States to experience working in Guatemala, she may have never realized her true passion.
Live life to the fullest and have no regrets. Take advantage of these amazing opportunities!
Don’t wait to improve your Spanish-speaking skills – professionally trained teachers are waiting for you to sign up today!
You can better your Spanish, talk about your résumé/CV and share your enthusiasm for Spanish-speaking internships with a native Spanish-speaker in Guatemala.
I began studying Spanish at age 11 and have been interested in language and culture ever since! While at University, I studied abroad in Spain and Costa Rica and got a B.A. in Environmental Economics with a minor in Spanish. After spending over a decade in Corporate America, I now enjoy the simpler things in life. ¡Pura Vida!
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