Intern Insight : Anna's Internship Experience in Colombia
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Hola! My name is Anna, I study languages at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and did a Sales & Marketing internship in Bogotá with Intern Colombia the summer before I started my final year. I had been teaching English for two years and was keen to try out a new sector and diversify my skillset before graduating. During my internship, I went from shadowing colleagues in their meetings with clients and doing KPI analyses in Excel to delivering sales pitches solo and attending different events in Bogotá as a brand ambassador for the company. I definitely saw an improvement in my business acumen, my professional skills in terms of customer service and interaction, and my overall professional confidence. One of the hardest aspects of my internship was going from being a teacher a.k.a. The Boss 😉 to being an intern who knew less than everyone else. It was a steep learning curve at the beginning, but this only made my internship a more interesting and stretching experience. If I were to repeat the experience, I would take some free online courses to get a bit of a background in marketing, as I feel this would have helped me work more effectively and would have opened up a few more projects to me.
A fascination with Latin America was actually one of the main reasons I chose to study Spanish, and after volunteering in Nicaragua for a few months in 2014, I couldn’t wait to come back. I was also looking at similar internships in Chile and Argentina; ultimately, I opted for Colombia because it was a better fit with my timescale and financial situation. Before landing in Bogotá I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Colombia; what I was most nervous about was making friends and integrating into my workplace. This worry turned out to be completely unfounded! My colleagues were friendly, relaxed, helpful and really helped me feel a part of the office. We often went for lunch together (the food and drink is delish, more on that later) and hung out outside of work. I also became good friends with the students and young people living in my student residence. There was a great atmosphere and I still chat with my landlady on WhatsApp <3
In my free time, apart from chilling with my coworkers and friends, I visited different areas of Bogotá such as Candelaria, Usaquén, Chapinero and others (sometimes by accident, be careful) and some of the parks, museums and art galleries in the city. I worked in the professional downtown area, with high-end offices and restaurants, but lived about half an hour away, in a quieter, cheaper area close to the National University. I used the TransMilenio public bus system at weekends and during the day but preferred to use Uber or Cabify the rest of the time, since TransMilenio gets extremely overcrowded and is notorious for pick-pocketing – even people from Bogotá get things stolen. I stayed in Bogotá most weekends because I had a lot of friends there and got to know it pretty well. It is a very interesting city but can get overwhelming at times because of the sheer volume of activity going on, and while I was there the temperature was quite cool and it rained quite a lot. I’m from the north of Scotland though, so can’t really complain! I also had the chance to visit Medellín, Cali (twice) and Salento and would recommend ALL OF IT. You can travel by plane, but buses are often cheaper, and they are honestly pretty comfortable – much better than an overnight Megabus! Safety is a valid concern to have in Colombia, but despite occasionally wandering into dodgy areas of the city, nothing ever happened to me. My advice would be to stay alert, sensible and informed. Ask your colleagues, housemates or hostel staff to indicate where it’s safe for you to go and at what times of day – Candelaria, for example is totally fine during the day, but you should avoid it after dark. If you realize you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be, make your way out of the area or call an Uber.
My short experience in Colombia only made me want to go back to experience more of it! I miss the amazing food and drink and the people there especially. I highly recommend trying chontaduro with salt and honey (typical of Cali), cholado (also an especialidad caleña), all the fruit you can, the trout at La Mona Gourmet in Calle 82, and empanadas, a wonderful snack that can be eaten at any time of day or night. I have one more semester of university to go and can’t wait to return to Latin America! Keep your fingers crossed for me!
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This blog post was published by Intern Colombia on 1 May 2019 and written by our Intern Colombia Alumna - Anna. This post has only been edited for grammatical purposes.