Madeline Diggs interned with Inthai in Barcelona, Spain, and helped launch the furniture design company's eCommerce storefront.
How did you get your internship and why did you choose this experience?
This summer I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for eight weeks, and during this time I had a part-time internship. I learned during PAH 383, the Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness course, that international internships were allowed, and even encouraged. My next step was to met with the study abroad advisor to learn about internship opportunities. Because of my passion for interior design, I got matched with Inthai, a Spanish furniture design company. Getting an internship through this program was a great opportunity because it allowed me to make connections with people from a completely different part of the world. Design in Spain is very different from the United States so it was a great learning experience.
I decided to work with the furniture company Inthai because I thought it would be a beneficial experience to learn about the furniture industry since I want to work as an interior designer after graduation. Furniture is an important part of interior design and learning about what products successfully sell and which ones don’t is important to learn about for my career path. This company has been a successful one for over one hundred years now so I knew they would be a great resource to learn from.
What was the focus of your internship?
The focus of my internship was to help the owner of Inthai create and launch an Amazon storefront so he can sell a select few of his products all over Europe. I worked hand in hand with another American intern in order to open the storefront. We conducted research on what makes an Amazon storefront successful and we learned that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when marketing furniture, including minor details that can allow for your product to sell or not. We then shared our recommendations with our boss so that the company could launch a successful storefront.
Through the process of my internship I learned many transferable skills, including teamwork and paying close attention to details. I also really enhanced my problem solving skills. For example, it was challenging to figure out how to open an Amazon storefront since I had never done it before, but with the help of Amazon Support, YouTube videos, and reading what felt like an endless number of articles, I was able to open the storefront for my boss. This taught me to not give up even if the task at hand seems almost impossible.
I also gained a lot of knowledge on how to respectfully communicate with people from another country. Working in a new country with people who predominantly speak Spanish can be intimidating. Also, Spanish culture is very different from the culture in the US. Learning how to effectively communicate with my boss and his team was a critical skill that I learned during my internship.
What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?
Some advice that I have for students as they search for their internships is to have an open mind about the internship experiences that are offered to you and think of ways that they could potentially benefit you in the future. At first I was really hoping to get to work hand and hand with an interior design firm while in Barcelona, but I did not get that opportunity. Instead, I looked at the opportunity that was given to me and began to see all of the potential that it had to offer. It made me realize how important it is to understand the furniture industry before I go into the world as an interior designer. The skills I learned this past summer are ones that will stick with me for the rest of my life so even if the internship you get is not your first choice, it is important to look at the positive side and see all of the benefits that the internship has to offer to help you in your future career.
How has your internship experience influenced your plans for your future?
My experience this summer with my internship has influenced my plans for the future tremendously. It taught me that it is okay to take risks and that oftentimes risk pays off. Going abroad and doing an internship in a different country has allowed me to become more confident in myself. I now am more confident in taking the risk to eventually open my own interior design firm because of the new found self confidence I have gained through doing this internship in Spain this summer.