We caught up with past intern Alex, who completed a 15-week internship with us in Cusco, in 2019, for a semester abroad. Reflecting on his time abroad and internship in Peru, Alex shares his motivations for applying, why gaining international work experience is such a game-changer, and how it leaves a lasting impact!
Hi Alex! It’s so great to connect again! Tell us a little about yourself and how you originally heard about Intern Abroad HQ.
My name is Alex and I currently work at Southern Utah University as an International Student Advisor. I started studying Secondary Education at SUU back in 2017, then went on to pursue a bachelor of Spanish.
It was during this time that my Study Abroad office started offering Semester Abroad programs abroad in Peru with Intern Abroad HQ. I had always wanted to teach Spanish, so when the opportunity came up to travel, be immersed in the Spanish language, and explore the richness of South American culture, I couldn’t turn it down!
Give us an overview of your experience as an intern. What were you involved in?
The process of applying and working with Intern Abroad HQ was very easy. I had the opportunity to discuss my interests which I really enjoyed, and my Program Manager was very intent on finding a placement for exactly what I was looking for. I was interested in working with those looking to improve their English skills - they actually ended up creating a totally customized program placement for me which was amazing!
I went on to teach English to local Peruvians in the area, meeting a ton of people. I was lucky enough to be able to work with the director of the English department. I assisted him with teaching classes, marketing, program development, and program outreach. It was such a relaxed, casual internship environment. I heard so many personal stories and learnt about Peruvian culture. Within the first week, the staff already felt like my family away from home.
Intern Abroad HQ did a great job at organizing everything pre-departure as well as checking up on the group of us throughout our time in Peru. The staff at my placement were amazing and super helpful with helping you out with anything and everything.
I was also able to take one on one Spanish classes alongside the internship, greatly improving my language skills. I felt right at home within the culture!
You stayed with a host family during your time in Peru. What was that like?
It’s hard to say what people should expect from their homestay accommodation. Every family is different and offers a unique experience for that student. For me, my homestay exceeded my expectations. They were arguably my favorite part of the entire experience and I never felt like I was “just another student” they were hosting.
From the time they picked me up at the airport, to the time I left, I truly felt like a member of the family. They were the kindest, self-less, and most inspiring people I have met. Every student that came through during my time always commented on how kind and compassionate they were.
The homestay accommodation allows you to really immerse yourself in the culture. You get to practice your Spanish, learn about the culture, try different foods, and see places you wouldn’t see as a tourist.
Looking back on your internship abroad, why do you think getting international experience is such a game-changer?
I cannot even begin to explain how much an internship contributes to opening up doors, whether this is at college, post graduation or when entering the job market. Traveling abroad and getting a global perspective on life really opens up your mind and teaches you how to work with different people, cultures, personalities and backgrounds.
A great way to further your cultural awareness also comes with learning a second language. This is incredibly beneficial, especially for those based in the US, which is seeing a shift in what the dominant language is.
For me, it was an eye-opening experience meeting people - from not only Peru, but all over the world. I grew up in a really small town and it would have been easy for me to get caught up in my own little bubble. Prior to the internship I lacked any real outside influence or diversity so, reflecting on my time abroad, I am so much more open and aware of what is going on in the world around me. Showcasing such an experience on your resume looks amazing to future employers!
In your experience, what advantage does an internship have over other kinds of international experience, such as study abroad?
The ability to gain real-world experience in a professional work context that goes above and beyond the classroom is so beneficial. It’s incredible how much you learn while being immersed in a language. Everyday I was learning new words and improving my proficiency. Taking part in an internship has the added benefit of letting you test drive an anticipated career path. The ability to also customize the experience to your own needs, interests and goals means you are getting the exact opportunity you are after, without having to compromise.
What advice do you have for others who are still considering if an internship in Peru is right for them?
My experience with Intern Abroad HQ in Peru was one of the best of my life. I still think back to my time there and love sharing my experience with others. I’ve never regretted taking the opportunity to travel.
For anyone looking to improve their Spanish, Cusco is the place to go! The Spanish is very easy to understand, and the locals are always willing to help you out. My private Spanish lessons helped me a lot to gain more fluency and proficiency as well talking with my host family every day. I hope that future interns in Peru (or elsewhere) will take advantage of staying with a host family, as you learn so much from them. They took me places I would never have known about, and taught me about the culture and history.
Time flies by when you’re in Peru, so go see as much as you can, meet as many people as you can. The Cusco area is beautiful. There is so many cool places to explore. I promise you won’t have enough time to see it all. Plan your weekends ahead of time because in a blink of an eye they will be gone!
Push yourself out of your comfort zone to introduce yourself, share stories. Give the internship your all, as the more you do, the more you learn! Now quit reading this and go apply for an internship with Intern Abroad HQ. I promise you will have an experience of a lifetime!
Ready to start planning your own internship abroad? Here’s how to started!
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly - just submit your application to get the ball rolling. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.