Let us talk about internships in Spain. How are they? Do they work in the same way as in the UK or in other European countries?
Before 1992, internships only existed in the fields of education and medicine. Since then, they have been integrated into the majority of courses and are much more frequent. In Spain, an internship does not have the same meaning as in France or Germany. Indeed, internships follow a plan of study made before graduation, and combine theoretical and practical knowledge by providing the student with a little experience. This is why most universities incorporate a mandatory internship.
You can find two types of internship:
Internships for students: They are mandatory, organised by the universities and are regulated by an agreement (convenio) between the university and the company under « Programas de Cooperación Educativa ». A mentor is chosen to help the intern in the company or at the work placement, and another is chosen from the university. Generally speaking, interns are paid, but it is possible for the firm to give economic compensations in the form of grants. Trainees are covered by the student insurance and the university supplementary insurance. The intern/student will never be considered as a true employee.
Internships for young graduates under a student initiative: Actually, Spanish legislation does not have a law about this type of internship. They are made through a tripartite internship agreement proposed by the university, association or under programmes. For example, the Public University of Navarra, Diálogo Association and Eurodyssée Program. It is possible to propose a mutual agreement with the employer and to purchase individual insurance but it does not happen very often and normally companies require an agreement. These internships are paid as scholarships and the intern does not hold an official job so there is not a contractual relationship. It is important to not confuse these placements with those under the internship contract (Contrato de Prácticas) which are very common for young graduates, for which you pay into social security and for which you receive a set salary.
Working hours in Spain are different from elsewhere: workdays end later (around 7 or 8 pm); lunch begins at around half past two; and the work week is 40 hours in total.
A few pieces of advice for if you want to submit an internship application:
Your CV is more important than your cover letter. So you must write a good CV. It has to be brief (not more than one or two pages), simple, clear and precise. The goal is of course to obtain a professional interview. Beware of spelling mistakes because the Spanish are very picky in this area.
Now you are ready for an internship in Spain. But one last simple and effective tip before you go: Do not forget to be yourself and smile.
Hi My name is Thomas and I am from France.
I spent three and a half months in Madrid in Spain doing an internship in a retail store during the Summer 2010.
Madrid is just great, I lived with a crazy Spanish guy near Principe Pio. There is always something to do or visit!! I just loved it, I have a lot of good memories during and out of my work experience!
The intership was an amazing work experience. It wasn’t my first internship but it was my first time abroad on a long period. The main improvement was my Spanish of course. I manage through this experience to get confidence and show to my manager and myself that I was capable of quality work even under pressure.
Of course my professional skills have been improving along this experience, especially my communication skills. As it is a retail store, I was in permanent contact with customers and so needed communication techniques to find out about the needs and likes of the customers to propose the best product that correspond. My communication skills have also improved during this internship with my co-workers. Getting to know them, to work on a daily base with them and making friends with them!!
Having said that it is a commitment to take an internship, especially abroad. It shows you are willing to learn and improve by the best and hardest way: the practical experience!! Because even after doing a Masters degree, you only have theoretical knowledge and that doesn’t always work in a professional world…
Doing a work experience abroad is one of the best thing I have ever done, for the simple fact that it brighten my horizon and got me learning about new people and different ways of thinking. I think it is that kind of experience that will change you for ever and makes you a new man and hopefully a better person.
I would like to tell you about my experience in an internship I have done in Tenerife, and about my work experience after the internship which was in Gran Canaria.
My previous study was Tourism and for that study I have been to Tenerife to do a five month internship. I did the internship in a hotel at the entertainment department. This means a lot of contact with the guests of the hotel and make it more enjoyable for them. During the day the guests could play games like water-polo, French bowls, archery, rifle shooting, football, darts etc. During the evening there were professional shows but before and after we spoke with the guests and tried to take them on the dance floor. The most important characteristic of an entertainer is the expression of the face. I really enjoyed this internship in Tenerife, and to be around people all the time.
After this period in Tenerife I wanted to gain more experience abroad. I decided to work for one year in another country. I first did an Intensive Spanish course for three months in Sevilla. From there I found a job in Gran Canaria as entertainer. Actually I wanted to do something else to gain different experience but I have had a great time as entertainer during my internship in Tenerife so it was very attractive to do it again.
This time it was definitely different because my experience and language skills made me very fast chief of entertainment. As a chief you have to manage the team and satisfy all the guests, you have a lot more responsibilities, and you have to deal with complaint or even better avoid receiving complaints.
I was presenting shows in four languages, which made it more difficult to keep the attention of all the guests but this is definitely a good experience that I lived like challenge for me. Basically there were competition games which would end in a lovely and hilarious evening.
All in all I can definitely say I have improved many skills and right now I really do have a stronger personality, thanks to this internship and that experience I had in the gran Canaria.