GoAbroad Interview

Katie Arango - Marketing Director

Katie Arango - Marketing Director

Katie Arango has been leading the Connect-123 team in Buenos Aires as well as the Global Marketing team for the past three years. Her passion for international experiences led her to pursue a degree in International Studies from Miami University and then to seek out opportunities to teach, study, and work abroad in the years since. Originally from the U.S., she has also lived in Spain and is currently based out of Argentina, where she loves showing interns and volunteers all that her adoptive city of Buenos Aires has to offer!

What is the best part of working for Connect-123? What does your job entail?

By far the best part about working for Connect-123 is getting to share the fantastic city of Buenos Aires and Argentine culture with students from around the world! From the social events we organize that are designed to ensure students are making the most of their time here, to the meaningful internship and volunteer projects they work on that allow them to experience first-hand the nuances of local culture, it’s incredible to see how much students change and grow--in just a few months! In addition to my role on C123 Team Argentina, I also work on marketing projects for all five of our international destinations.

Street painting in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Interns explore the street art of Buenos Aires

What characteristics make Buenos Aires a great program location?

Buenos Aires is a fantastic location for interns and volunteers to visit for many reasons! It’s a major cultural center in Latin America, which means there are plenty of opportunities for placements within start-ups, established companies, NGOs, you name it! Buenos Aires is also a very social city, so it’s not hard for students to immediately jump right in, make friends, and get involved within their community. With its own musical brand of Spanish, European-inspired architecture and a culture all its own, Buenos Aires is a top destination!

How do you prepare participants for life in Buenos Aires? What tips do you provide participants to help them adapt to Argentine culture?

From the time an applicant confirms their participation, we start sharing tips for them to get ready for life here in Argentina, recommending books, movies, websites, as well as our own pre-trip documents and relevant posts from our blog. These cover everything from how to get around the city and explaining the different neighborhoods, to the economic and political situation, as well as local customs and social norms. During orientation, we cover all sorts of practical tips, including when and how to use different methods of public transportation, tips for exchanging money, and ideas for additional Spanish practice. We want to make sure participants feel comfortable from their first day here.

Fans at a futbol game in Argentina

Cheering on their team

But, some of my favorite tips for new arrivals have more to do with unwritten cultural rules, such as: 

  1. Punctuality is a relative term so aside from work, don’t expect people to arrive exactly on time
  2. Incorporate “tea time” or merienda, a late afternoon snack into your diet. Otherwise, you’ll never make it to those 10 p.m. dinners 
  3. Porteños have more lax rules about personal space than many foreigners. The sooner you get used to greeting people and saying goodbye with a kiss on the cheek, the better! 

    What Connect-123 program draws the most international students?

    Though we can find internship and volunteer projects in a wide range of areas, the most popular programs are typically business, human rights, and medicine. Entrepreneurship thrives in Buenos Aires, and working with a local start up or venture capital fund can be a perfect fit for those looking to get business experience in an emerging market. Argentina’s complex history makes it an ideal location for students looking to gain experience in human rights. And, many pre-med and health sciences students find that seeing how medicine is practiced in a completely different health care system gives them a truly unique, global perspective that will serve them well in their future careers.


Learning how to make empanadas

    Perfecting their empanada making skills

    You are fluent in Spanish, how do you help participants learn to communicate in Spanish in their daily interactions?

    I studied Spanish throughout school and college, and I’ve lived in Madrid as well as Buenos Aires. Participants are typically quite eager to improve their Spanish and it’s not difficult as they are completely immersed in the language, living, making friends, and working in a Spanish environment. Our local language school partner offers a discount to our program participants and depending on language proficiency, most students get lots of practice each day at their internship or volunteer projects. That said, Spanish isn’t a requirement for our programs, and we certainly have plenty of projects in Buenos Aires available for non-Spanish speakers, especially in business, marketing, and education.

    What’s the best place to visit in Buenos Aires?

    Well there are certainly too many great spots to list, but if I had to pick one I’d say the San Telmo antique fair on Sundays. It’s one of the “tourist” must-visits that I still enjoy, even after having lived here for over six years. There’s always some new treasure there to discover!

    With Connect-123 programs running throughout the year, when is the best time to join a program?

    June to August is our busiest period, so if it’s possible to join September to May, applicants might find that they’ll have a wider range of options. Also, for those wanting to escape the northern hemisphere winter, remember that seasons are opposite in Argentina, where November to March is our summer and temperatures can reach 90 degrees!

    What is a typical day like for someone on a Buenos Aires program?

    Since we develop customized programs for participants across all fields, a typical day can really vary! One student might get up and go to work at an architecture firm downtown, whereas another might head to a local community garden to help teach school children about sustainability, and a third would head to a public hospital to shadow a doctor on his ward rounds. And after work, there’s never a shortage of things to do! Program participants might join a weekly Connect-123 social event, take a tango class, get dinner at a parrilla, or enjoy the city’s never-ending nightlife with friends.


Foreigners at a bar in Argentina

    Interns and volunteers waiting for the amazing post-modern theater show, Fuerza Bruta, to start!

    How do you hope to impact Connect-123’s programs in the next year?

    Over the next year, working together with our university partners, attending a number of industry conferences, and through social media, I hope to reach out to more students and graduates, sharing real-life participant experiences and helping them to learn more about international opportunities for both their personal and professional growth.