GoAbroad Interview

Miguel Gonzalez - UK Program Manager

Miguel Gonzalez - UK Program Manager

Miguel is the UK programme manager at We Find Group. Originally from Australia but of Spanish heritage, he carries a well-rounded perspective of Anglo-Continental cultural awareness and business practices. Having an academic background in business management and politics, Miguel frequently travels across Europe to international commercial chambers and events, liaising with corporate representatives. As part of the the The Global Internship, he is responsible for matching student candidates with their dreams in gaining practical international experiences. 

You joined the company only a few months ago. What attracted you to work for We Find Group?

The company seemed to be quite diverse and globally connected. During my own studies, my one regret was never taking the opportunity of undertaking an overseas internship and making valuable contacts in the international business world. I found this opportunity would be rewarding in exposing students to an international working environment, new language abilities and, for many, a different culture in where they would gain practical skills and useful connections.

Team Photo of the Tarragindi Tigers City 6, Brisbane, Australia 
Team photo with the Tarragindi Tigers City 6, Brisbane, Australia 

How do you use your educational background in international relations in your current job?

The primary advantage of my educational background is having extensive knowledge of the political economy within a vast variety of different states. Understanding of the praxis in relations between governments and bureaucracies is crucial when liaising with representatives within commercial chambers and international business events. I also have broad knowledge and personal interest in languages and cultures, which produces and automatic sense of commonality when establishing relationships with both company representatives or international students.

You speak English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Korean. How does We Find Group encourage language learning alongside internship placements?

My entire life I have been fascinated by languages and the ability to communicate across cultures. We Find Group encourages every intern to learn, at minimum, the basics of the local language in where they are interning. For non-Spanish speaking students interning in Madrid, we provide a Spanish comprehension test in order to assess their level of Spanish ability – even if they will be interning in an English speaking environment. We also give the option of undertaking Spanish language classes and often they walk away having accomplished another valuable life skill. 

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

When dealing with global opportunities, it is sometimes a rarity to have a typical day. Core duties consist of reviewing student applications and understanding their areas of studies, skills, interests, industries and future goals they wish to pursue upon completion of their studies.

We often attend large corporate events within various commercial chambers and regularly travel internationally for economic centred meetings and seminars. Furthermore, we are constantly on the lookout for prospective companies and organisations ready to partner with us in providing an open doorway to further opportunities for our interns.    

Tourist at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
Visiting the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂), Taipei, Taiwan

How do you ensure each intern is placed in an internship that will provide them with valuable professional knowledge for their future career? 

Our student-client matching process is the fundamental bedrock on which our success is built.

We avoid taking students’ resumes on their face value and instead delve into what exactly the students themselves wish to achieve during their internship. With each application, we conduct several phases of review and one-to-one discussions in order to maintain the best possible idea of the student’s skills, interests, and future career goals. 

We repeat this process with our clients in order to discover the type of student candidates they are searching for, and the skills, duties, responsibilities and outcomes required for the job role. Having an extensive understanding of what both parties can provide and are willing to offer each other, we are effectively able to tailor-make each interning experience, making it both unique and beneficial. 

What are the most popular types of internships sought after by your participants? 

In my experience, students are often quite open to experiencing an assortment of different internships. In terms of location, it’s mostly common for students to intern in a country which can offer them the opportunity of learning a different language and exposing them to cultural difference. The Madrid Summer Internship Programme is extremely popular for students from the U.S. as is our London Programme for those of non-English speaking backgrounds. We service students from all different disciplines, though students of business administration, marketing, and public affairs backgrounds tend be our most profound. 

Miguel Gonzalez with colleague in the UK

Why do you think international experience is important in the job market of today?

Without question, any and all international experience, whether it be professional or personal, is an added advantage in today’s workforce in the eye’s of potential employers. International experience provides one with a greater ability to communicate and develop relationships across broader environments. Professionally, international experience provides an advantage through knowing about different workplace cultures and business practices. International experience opens the doorway to cultural awareness and learning additional languages – skills which are highly sought after in an ever globalising world.

What are the easiest countries for students to get internships in, in terms of both visas and placement options? 

At present, any Schengen nationalities have virtually unrestricted movement of travels between their respect partner states. The Schengen area is covers the United Kingdom and the majority of western continental Europe, consisting of 26 different nationalities. Students often travel to neighbouring countries and undertake internships without the need for any visa or approval status. These states are also quite open to other Commonwealth members and the U.S. In our line of work, we have not had a single visa application rejected for students entering the UK and Europe from all corners of the globe.

Are participants required to have particular language skills depending on their country of interest? 

Foreign language abilities are only mandatory if the host company specifically requires such in order to properly undertake the job role. We sometimes have cases where a particular company requires an intern to speak, read, and write in order to liaise with clients and be a part of the local working environment. The majority of the time, however, English is used predominantly throughout the local and international world of business. More often than not, colleagues will use the intern as chance to practice their own English skills, rather than expecting the intern to learn the local language overnight.

We Find Group staff at a conference in Europe
Joining Founder and CEO of We Find Group and The Global Internship, Carlota Navarro, for the European Chambers of Commerce held in Madrid 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

In all honesty, I love speaking and interacting with the students that come through applying for our overseas internships. Many times they remind me of myself at their age and my own experiences of travelling to a different country to live, work, and learn a new way of life. Sometimes students can feel intimidated with the prospect of leaving familiar territory and going somewhere different, without having family or friends close by and without knowing how to communicate their thoughts in public.

Having travelled to over thirty different countries and lived extensively in four of them, I always look forward to reassuring students that discovering the world is the best way to discover what it truly means to be human. 

Furthermore, the most enjoyable part of my work is hearing the phenomenal feedback from both students and clients alike. One can become overwhelmed with a feeling of satisfaction knowing they are somewhat responsible for building a successful and long lasting relationship.I enjoy hearing clients say they are still in personal contact with their intern, seeing them as an exemplary ambassador for their team.