Englishman Abroad: Progress!

Where HAS this week gone?

All of a sudden, only three weeks in, and it really feels like I’m genuinely part of the team. Suggestions considered, appreciated and at times put to use – or at least explained why it’s not the best idea. Likewise I’m actually contributing usefully to a wider range of operations than the behind the scene database and documentation.

I’m continuing to learn a lot, of course. This is partly because I now have a working knowledge of how the business runs, so I can look into more of the detail while contributing to the day-to-day. But it’s also about learning on the job. There’s simply no better way to put knowledge to use, test it, and learn where it works… and importantly where it doesn’t. That’s part of the beauty of internship, especially extended work experience, as part of your degree – learning things you can’t be taught in every permutation . What works, what doesn’t and why.

One of the big differences so far has been my involvement in planning meetings – keeping up-to-date and having a say in the way ahead. For next week the team will be depleted leaving three of us to keep the ship moving forward – not just afloat! I’ve already been asked to undertake intern support visits, something I’m well used-to in my previous role, but new here, and most likely needing to pull in my Spanish to be fully effective. This is an important focus for me, given my strong belief in the partnership or ‘co-creation’ that’s really essential to successful internships. Making sure the needs of intern, employer, intermediary, and of course the institution are all being met.

Team TJT at work

Friday of the coming week will involve outreach to a local high school, accompanying the assistant manager, Teresa, and a couple of interns who’ll be sharing their experiences. This is important because of the need for sustainable, long term links to the community you serve not just the businesses and current clients. It’s about community, but also about investing, indirectly, in relationships for the future. One of the things that makes Tenerife Job Training potentially more sustainable, given its small-scale and personal focus, is different business elements contributing to the whole. As well as TJT supporting inbound interns and groups from abroad, Noveleros en Ruta is a new brand promoting opportunities for young people from Tenerife, not just students, to travel abroad: traveling to learn and at the same time learning through the very experience of traveling.

Alongside TJT and Noveleros en Ruta the third piece of the jigsaw is Coworking Costa Adeje, CoCo, with TJT opening its doors to SMEs, NGOs and digital nomads to share workspace and facilities, generating income and active networks. Together these three ways of working are providing me with a good deal of insight into more than one business operation.

Noveleros en Ruta – outbound Canarians

Another new experience this week has been actively supporting seven newly-arrived interns in getting registered with the police and social security for their two forms of id: the NIE or Numero Identificacion de Extranjeros, and their social security card or NAF. Don’t ask what NAF stands for just now, but it’s so that employers can pay their taxes correctly, and essential to the proper (and legal) operation of internships. This involved driving on the island for the first time (on the ‘other’ side of the road, for a UK driver anyway), in a company vehicle, in a busy local road system, and with almost nowhere to park. A certain sense of satisfaction, but a well earned coffee break (and coffee-education) having started all this about 0730. So I now know how the system works, that I can cope with the driving, and the difference between a café con leche, cortado leche y leche and natural. Professional and cultural progress in a single morning.

Progress culturally has been in a number of ways too. An invitation to a work colleague’s birthday party led to plenty of chance to practice my Spanish with Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian friends and family. There’s really no substitute for social events and informality in helping to ‘bring on’ your foreign language skills. The wine/beer and sharing food helps too of course, as does the fact there are others who’ve been in the same boat as me in the past, metaphorically and linguistically speaking.

Secondly, striking up chance conversations with people (in my case on the beach with a beer-and-sandwich begging dog owner … let’s try again… the owner of a beer-and-sandwich begging dog)… well you hopefully get the picture. Talking about something you have in common really helps, and for those of you with dogs, you’ll understand.

Finally was the opportunity to see a brilliant, thoroughly entertaining, world class Argentine tango performance staged in the local event venue. This came ‘strictly’ out of the blue… The venue was impressive , and it’s always great to see how cultural events are professionally delivered and marketed in any new setting.

So bring on the coming weeks, new learning, and more progress!

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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