I have always had this itch to go abroad for an extended period of time and come my Sophomore year Summer, I knew I had to get an internship. With this understanding, but my 19 year old zest, I decided to mix my passions with the pressures of an Ivy League school. I needed to travel and work. I found PINC International and it was the perfect balance of resume boost, yet fun.
Why did you choose PINC International?
PINC International embodied my core values when it came to work and travel. It gave me the opportunity to work at a prestigious Venture Capital firm, yet still choose how I spent my free time. Lisette, the CEO and founder, created a safe environment where I had a parental figure among a completely new continent that I explored whenever I got the chance.
What was your favorite part about Madrid?
Being from LA, but matriculating at Columbia University in the City of New York, has given me a balance of chill, but a "hustler" mentality. Madrid was the perfect balance since everything was accessible like NYC, yet the mind set mimicked that of LA. Madrid was unapologetically Spanish, rich with tradition and culture. The big city vibes gave me a sense of safety, but the cultural aspect allowed me to leave my comfort zone in a way that gave me the opportunity to grow.
What made your experience abroad unique?
What made PINC unique was the fact that it was women-centric. The program focuses on professional women, which as an abroad program is not only unique, but also particular. Being the only girl out of four siblings and a Division 1 athlete, I always gravitated towards men. PINC not only showed me the strength of women and allowed me to network with ladies in the New York City area, but also created a group away from my hometown and college.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Lisette was available 24/7 and as stated before, served as a parental figure. We had weekly "family dinners" that served as a point to gather and be open with anything from jobs, to life itself, or even boy drama. Additionally, knowing that the moment a message was sent, it would be answered, gave a feeling of safety that is essential to being abroad.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have spoken more Spanish. At the time, I thought I took advantage of most every opportunity to practice another language, but am now seeing other opportunities that could have been utilized.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day consisted of waking up at 6:45 to go for a nice 8 mile run with my Spanish buddy, Nacho. I would then shower, get ready, eat breakfast and head to coffee with another girl from the program. I would then enjoy a nice day of work that included administrative tasks, learning new concepts, and a social lunch hour. After the day, I would either go to "family dinner" or cook something in the 15 room flat. After a nice meal, the ladies would either frequent a nightlife hotspot or enjoy some downtime in the apartment.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
On my freetime, I not only enjoyed exploring and getting to know the nooks and crannies of Madrid, but also the shopping. Madrid has great leather products that are a steal compared to the US.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
The accommodation was a big flat, which had about 15 rooms. There was a washer in-unit, a maid that came a couple times a week and a sizable common area. The apartment was situated in prime location, in the city center (Sol) and was walking distance from big tourist attractions like Mercado San Miguel and Plaza Mayor. We were able to walk to all the parties and were in close proximity to most subway lines.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Every participant should know that each experience is an individual one. It definitely is what you make it. Lisette is there to provide guidance, but not to give you the answers. She treats us like the adults that we are. Take advantage of being in such a great city and also being in a city that is so accessible to any other great cities on Europe.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
My time abroad has impacted my life to the point that after graduation I have decided to move back. I decided that my time in Madrid is not done and like NYC there are so many more things to explore and it cannot be done in merely eight weeks. PINC International was definitely a highlight of my college experience and has been an incredible speaking point on my resume.
Would you recommend PINC International to others? Why?
I would absolutely recommend PINC International to others because it gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a fun way. Living in a foreign country gives you perspective that not only gives you an edge when applying to future jobs, but also in life. I had so much fun, traveled to nine countries during my time on the program and afterwards. I made lifelong friends both in the program and in Spain. I feel like everybody should take advantage of such an incredible and accessible opportunity.
Sydney Segal is a recent graduate from Columbia University in the City of New York and a Beverly Hills native. She is an aspiring lawyer who has extensive work experience in sales. Sydney has traveled to more than 30 countries, and she is traveling back to Spain for her gap year. She speaks Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French.