Flying to Barcelona, Spain
This past summer, I traveled to Barcelona, Spain to take part in the Berkeley Global Internships program. I had an incredible time, and I recommend it to any Berkeley student looking for a way to travel over the summer while gaining professional experience. Here’s how to get started.
Berkeley Global Internships is a UCB Study Abroad program offered during the summer with both domestic and international locations. You take part in a guaranteed internship placement alongside two academic courses. To qualify, you must:
- Be eighteen years old by the start of the program
- Have successfully completed at least one year of college coursework
- Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, or have graduated in the last 12 months
- Have a 2.0 GPA or higher
- Meet any other location-specific criteria
Picking a Location
Since this program offers domestic and international locations, it’s important to consider your professional and personal goals.
Different locations have more specialized job sectors. For example, in the 2023 session, Singapore had more opportunities in the science-based fields while London had more business and finance opportunities. However, these market trends vary from year to year.
Another factor to consider is asking yourself what part of the world have you always wanted to live in for an extended period of time. This is a chance to do so!
Booking an advising appointment helped me gain a lot of clarity about where I wanted to go and what to expect in this process. I was torn between two locations and my advisor provided more information about each place which ultimately helped me make my decision.
Consulting your financial aid advisor as well to plan out the budgetary details in advance is a wise choce. Affordability was first and foremost on my mind, and I was able to receive cost estimates and explore scholarship opportunities. Checking in with both a program and financial advisor made the process a lot clearer and allowed me to continue ahead.
The Berkeley Global Internships application is slightly extensive, but is mainly focused on your areas of interest and reflective prompts, so don’t stress!
The first short essay is about what you hope to accomplish through this internship experience, how it aligns with your academic and career goals, and the kind of work experience you’re looking for. The next one is about challenges you believe you may face while abroad and the strategies you have to overcome them. The last one focuses on being a cultural ambassador and how you intend to represent yourself and UC Berkeley.
You will need your most recent college transcript and your resume formatted to the specific location you’re applying for. There are some signed waivers and a $400 deposit.
Completed applications are due no later than January 16, and admission status will be released on a rolling basis starting mid-February.
Internship Placement Process
When you have been notified of your acceptance into the program of your choice, there is a virtual placement orientation to prepare you for the Global Internships team in March. There are online interview preparation workshops throughout April. You will be notified that you have been matched with an internship based on your interests and background by the internship team from April to June. You will then have a virtual interview with the actual internship from May to June.
I interviewed twice before being placed in my second potential internship placement. Placements are confirmed in June, the month in which the internship begins.
There are a variety of Berkeley students who intern in different locations. I chose Barcelona, Spain, and spent a little over two months in that beautiful city. I visited most of the major monuments and attended a range of events. I took a Spanish course at a local language school that reinvigorated my love for language learning. I was able to visit the south of France, an area that I’ve always wanted to go to.
I felt a renewed sense of capability after navigating a foreign country on my own which cemented my plans for traveling post-graduation. I questioned my own cultural norms and became more open-minded to the idea that I could incorporate aspects of that other culture into my own. It was life-altering.
The people I met truly made the experience for me. Having a group of people coming from Berkeley who were equally as eager to explore their new temporary home made traveling around that much easier. We would go out in the evenings, plan weekend trips, and generally lean on each other for support. I met people that I’m positive I want in my life beyond graduation. Since many of them were fellow students doing the program with me, I could continue these relationships once I got back instead of dealing with hard goodbyes. Navigating living abroad really bonded us.
In addition to Berkeley friends, I made local friends at places I would frequent a lot. Since Barcelona is an international city, I met people from all over the European Union as well as those from Spain. I’ve had some great conversations and times with these people. They taught me new perspectives and shared parts of their lives with me.
My Internship & Classes
My internship was with an advertising agency. I was able to be immersed in a different work culture than the American one I was used to. I found that there was a clear divide between work and life outside of it which I’m not accustomed to. I wasn’t contacted on weekends or after hours, for example. We worked hard and I was thorough on all of my projects, but it was refreshing to experience more of a balance. Plus, I was gaining professional experience that was a valuable addition to my resume. I had coworkers from all over Europe as well, which was insightful and taught me how to collaborate with a lot of different people.
At the same time, I was taking two classes. The first was a cultural and history course about the city of Barcelona. Knowing more about the city and its past created a foundation that allowed me to feel closer to the place I was living in rather than be a passing tourist. I could understand how the city’s history was influencing daily events.
The second course was a leadership course through the Haas School of Business. I gained a base of leadership skills that will stay with me in my future endeavors.
Take the Leap!
I highly recommend taking any opportunity to travel during your college experience. It’s crucial to your development as a young adult. The Berkeley Global Internships Program offers professional, academic, and personal development. Check out next summer’s locations, meet with advisors, and prepare for the January deadline. Where could you go next summer?
Preslee Vanlandingham is a fourth year at UC Berkeley majoring in English and Creative Writing.