Nearly done. To be honest at the start it seemed like it would feel like a long time but the internship’s gone so fast it seems too soon to end.
It’s Sunday and my last weekend on the island of Tenerife, a little over 2000 miles from home. Yesterday was probably my last restaurant meal, a treat to end my time here, with a few tapas and a very nice Albarino wine from the Rías Baixas. This morning I’m on the beach after a very uncharacteristic rain storm, starting to write my thoughts about the whole experience. Well wouldn’t you? One last time doing something you can’t do at home?
I guess the biggest surprise from my time here is how quickly I became part of the business that’s been ‘hosting’ me. It’s a good feeling to be contributing, not just observing, and certainly not a burden. It’s a two-way street, being an intern. ‘Placement’ and ‘Work Experience’ are the wrong labels in my opinion, and they don’t do justice to the fact that in return for the opportunity to learn you must, and will, bring something to the operation yourself. Personality, skills, enthusiasm, ideas, whatever you bring will always be of value, and more often than not it will be remembered when you leave.
I’d like to think that this isn’t the end of a relationship with new friends and colleagues. There may of course be business or less formal links, but my network is broader and better for being here and doing what I’ve done. And I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.
Also broader and better is my world view. I’ve had an international outlook for a long time now, but there’s always room to tinker at the edges of that viewpoint: to confirm what you knew and believed already, and to challenge and change those views occasionally. Time away from the familiar can also give you the chance to redefine yourself – although that’s not compulsory it may happen by stealth in any case.
So what have I learned? Without getting into the details, I’ve gained skills and understanding that will make what I do in future better informed and more effective. I’ve learned of the challenges and benefits of being part of, and leading, an internationally-oriented organisation, albeit a small one and one with a heart. I’ve learned from people in the hospitality industry, education providers and those intermediaries that ply their trade between students and workplace, supporting both.
Thanks to the Erasmus Plus and Erasmus For Young Entrepreneurs programmes my understanding of the value of European diversity and unity have grown equally over the years, and no less through this experience.
I think I understand more of the Spanish and Canarian cultures and their language, and I’ve reconfirmed that my efforts to learn some of that language have been worthwhile. I’ve also got to know a little more about the cultures of people I’ve lived and worked with and the clients I’ve worked for. So thank you to the mainland Spaniards and the Canarians, the Portuguese, the Hungarians, Moldovans and Romanians, the French, Irish and Dutch, the Colombians and Cubans, and the very occasional Brit. A world view indeed.
I’ve learned more about my own capabilities and what I still have to learn, more about what I value and where I’m valued. More about my industry and more about me. So if I can do it, so you can you. If I can benefit, so can you. We’re always learning, from people, from places, and from the journeys in between. From experience. From one experience to the next.
So here’s to the next experience … for you and for me.