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Federico Mosquera Mateus, a student of the program of Economy, tells how he was able to enhance his skills and knowledge, and exalt the humanistic approach that La Sergio instilled in him, when he did his internship at a prestigious German Bank.

Federico Mosquera Universidad sergio arboleda

Hi, my name is Federico and I´m at my 10th semester of my bachelor’s in economics. I´m also about to finish my internship at a German bank. Seven months ago, I applied for several jobs in many countries, the truth is that I had been planning for that for quite some years. Thank you for giving me this space to narrate how this opportunity was given…Hopefully, it will be useful for those who are contemplating the idea of living this magnificent experience.

In this short article, it is my intention to explain my process for achieving this, and luckily, it will help you in case you are interested in doing an international internship.

The Process

The process to do an internship with a foreign company is long and requires planning. In fact, I believe its necessary to have had the intention of doing such so for many semesters in advance, prior to the semester when you are supposed to do your internship. The reason is that, even though there are several bureaucratic processes that might take weeks to be solved (visa appliances, translation and certification of documents, etc.), the actual planning consists of identifying a professional field that you might like to work on, and, as consequence, build up a set of abilities that helps you obtain the job you want.

When I say “process” I´m referring to the plan you need to assemble to work on whatever you feel passionate about. Some blocks are more obvious than others, for example, the English language (there is no way of scaping from it, and you ill need at least a B2). Other blocks are not as obvious. Want to be a trader? A politician maybe? Or a consultant? Then you need to ensure that, at the very moment when you apply for your internship, all the abilities that you deem necessary for that job are developed to their plausible maximum (that is why, among other motives, that I have always defended that internships should be done in our last semester).

It might occur that some of these abilities could not be present in your academic program, but maybe it is present in another and so, you could try to assist to those classes. If what you are looking for is not available at our university, then how about not going out for a weekend and investing 30000 COP in an online course. My point is that there will always be alternatives, but they always take time. Ideally, and this is my point of view, the end of the 4th semester is a moment to reflect, and

its at this instant when one has a clear idea of the program and the career where it leads to, and so its possible to make the decision of going ahead, or making a u turn and go for another program, or contemplate which abilities you already have and which ones you are lacking in order to get where you want to be.

It seems key to nurture what we learn at the university. For example, I usually take two virtual courses each semester. I believe this is a reasonable academic load that allows me to move fast without compromising my exams. So, if you think you need to take four courses, then plan with a two semesters margin.

Being Sergista

The humanistic focus of the University is something we all have heard of at least once along the career. For some, this Sergista stamp is not relevant and for this reason they believe that future professionals do not need to appropriate aspects related to humanism. However, the global market deems this trait as an essential differentiator that is strong enough to determine if you are hired or not.

It might be useful to see it this way: nowadays, there are machines and algorithms capable of doing almost everything better than us (humans), even better than those with high levels of scientific mastery. What truly differentiates is the capacity of setting dilemmas from multiple perspectives, understand different approaches, debate, and build ideas.

Thus, the virtues of humanism (empathy, solidarity, leadership, even teamwork) become as differentiating as each language that is mastered. If humanism is renounced or simply not valued, there will be no difference between the professional version of oneself and an algorithm, the latter is usually cheaper for the employer, especially in the more developed countries.

What I learnt

Working with a German bank has heavily contributed on my vocational training, particularly because of the cultural differences. It is common for companies and organizations to adopt several native values from the countries in which they operate or where they were founded. These values often find their way discreetly among employees and somehow becoming an essential part of the company´s identity.

In my case, part of that culture is the lack of interest towards the title, an intentional lack of course. This has two relevant implications, the first being the absence of “dones” and “doñas”, there people are called by their name and respect is shown by doing a good job and delivering on time. For the generation I belong to, this did not prove an obstacle but rather a relief.

The second implication is the effect this has withing the organizational culture, its not only about taking out the “dones” and “doñas”, but also to see beyond any title, even your academic title. And, if we think about it, we are not in an era where titles define our career. There are countries where this has been known for quite sometime now (actually, in English we use two different words to distinguish between the concepts, “career” and “degree” as opposed to using “Carrera” in Spanish for both words).

Ignoring titles means that people will not perceive you by what you studied but rather for what you do in the company and what you could do. This meant that when it was necessary to build up an emergency team to translate documents, I became a translator for a couple weeks. When it was needed to reform databases and rewrite codes, I became a programmer. The same pattern repeated itself multiple times. The lecture here (and surely in every foreign business), is that one must be versatile and autodidact because the more you can contribute the better your performance will be.

The University

Ever since I got the opportunity to do my international internship, our university has always been very keen to make the process easier. In my case, it was me the one that reached out to the bank in which I currently work at (the university has job fairs and several contacts, but that does not mean that you cannot find yourself your own internship).

Of course, is always tougher to apply for a job in a foreign country. You need to translate your curriculum vitae, google a lot about contracts for foreigners and even write a motivation letter (companies want to know why you are interested in that particular one and not another, so doing a little more research usually pays off). Still, it’s worth it.

My Suggestions:

It can be frustrating to compete in international labor markets, but, if you know English, use Spanish as leverage to compete and look for jobs in which the main language (most of them) and require staff that also speaks Spanish.

Speak with your professors, many of them have careers that could be like what you want to do. So, if you do not have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in the near future, a quick chat after classes could really help clear out concepts and, with some luck, lead to a starting point. Do not forget, the worst diligence is the one that is not done.

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