(L-R) Alex Edwards, Ceri Elen Challinor, Carlos Rosón, and Diego del Río.
Ceri Elen Challinor, along with fellow Leeds student Alex Edwards, took part in the Santander Enterprise Exchange Programme with the Universidad de Salamanca in 2012. They spent a few weeks learning Spanish at a Summer School in Salamanca before working with the University of Salamanca on a research project with Spanish students: Carlos Rosón and Diego del Río.
‘I was just coming to the end of my year in enterprise when I received an email about the Santander Exchange programme. I was keen carry on my involvement with enterprise and the Enterprise Centre, and have always loved experiencing new cultures so this opportunity sounded perfect. The more I learnt about the Exchange the more I wanted to go, one of my biggest regrets is that I don’t speak more languages, and this was a great chance and reason to start learning one. I am a design student, and as much I enjoy my degree and its content I have always wanted to learn more about business and enterprise. With this area not being directly related to my degree being offered this opportunity was a once in a life time occurrence, so I took a long shot and applied for it. Whilst in Spain both Alex and I experienced great hospitality from not only the Spanish students involved but also the other people we encountered on our trip. We were lucky enough to experience the Spanish culture first hand and make new friends from all over the world. From this experience I can now say that I have worked across cultures, and have a better understanding of the differences between businesses in both countries. The interviews that we conducted have given me an insight into all sorts of companies and the entrepreneurs involved, serve as an inspiration. I would advise anyone who is genuinely interested in this programme to apply, this for me was a chance to get involved in an enterprise programme whilst finishing my degree, and both are now complimentary to each other. The programme was the best of both worlds the research we conducted was interesting and the things we got to see and do unforgettable.’ Ceri Elen Challinor
‘My expectations of the Santander Exchange Programme were of something very different from your usual summer internship and it certainly was. I originally applied because I thought that it would be amazing to have the opportunity to learn a new language, spend some time getting experience abroad and learn more about entrepreneurship and business (something that I was already interested in) all while gaining valuable experience for my C.V. It didn’t disappoint. Not only did I get to gain valuable skills but I also had a fantastic time, in the sunshine, while doing so.
The internship is part of a 3-year project and Ceri and myself were the second pair of interns to partake. The first ten weeks were based in the picturesque student city, Salamanca, about 2 hours away from Madrid. The first month was spent doing a language course at a prestigious internationally recognised university with about 25 other students from Leeds University. It gave me a chance to get to know Ceri and settle into living in Spain. The language course was great (I was a complete novice, and it was an opportunity to learn some of the basics) and socially it was a lot of fun. After the initial 4 weeks the internship commenced. We were to pair up with two Spanish masters students and work on a project (either based on Family Business or Entrepreneurship). I was paired with Diego, and we worked on the Family Business project. We had to research the area and look to build from the previous year’s project and decide where we wanted to take the research. It gave me the experience of working on a substantial project and many of the skills that we had to utilise I know for a fact employers are impressed by. Once the agenda of our project had been decided we had to contact and arrange interviews with CEO’s of local businesses. This was all done with the help of Julio and Ignacio, two professors from Salamanca University who were our Spanish supervisors. Although my Spanish was far from fluent this should not deter any prospective applicants. In fact, the interviews were where my Spanish improved the most and it was a great opportunity to see how different business in Spain is from the U.K. Once back in Leeds the internship was far from over as the Spanish interns then came to England (Salamanca in summer or Winter in Yorkshire – cant help but feel they got the raw end of the deal) and the research continued. With support from Sarah and Nigel we had to carry out the same process here, organising interviews and continuing the research. The final report is something that you can be very proud of and the presentation is great experience for the future. Outside of the work for the internship the experience of being in Spain was great, the other interns were extremely welcoming (as were all the Spanish people that I met there) and Ceri and I had the chance to go to Fiesta’s in some of there home towns, learn how to pace ourselves on a night out (5am is early by their standards) and eat some of the best pork you will ever have. If you want to do an internship where you can have both excellent professional experience to talk about in interviews, but also some brilliant times that seem a million miles away from those that many of my other friends had while interning (sitting in a one bed flat watching dvds) then it is definitely worth doing.’ Alex Edwards
“When I first heard from the Santander UK Exchange Program I thought it could be a great opportunity to spend some time in England and thus improve my English and also a great experience in terms of learn something else about the enterprises in the UK. What I really did was so much more, I really improve my English, but the key part was that I was able to extract a large amount of differences between the way that entrepreneurs make business in the UK and the way they do it in Spain. The opportunity to get to know some entrepreneurs who had succeed in their industry in both countries is really rewarding for a person who is just starting in the business world. The Enterprise Centre took care of all the issues related with accommodation, flights, food and everything we ask them for, and for the project they provided us with an office to work in and with all the advice we could possibly need. I totally recommend this experience to anyone, because beyond everything in learnt I had a really good time in Leeds.” Carlos Rosón