Thalassa de Burgh-Milne - Director of Intern Madrid
Thalassa has worked and traveled throughout Europe. She has masters degrees in International Relations, Business, and International Marketing. Her depth of experience traveling, coupled with her academic background, allow her to understand and anticipate the barriers that can come with working and living abroad. She uses this to help interns in the Madrid programs turn challenges into advantages.
You’re the Director of Intern Madrid, how did you originally get connected to The Intern Group?
I was working in Madrid in a finance company and realized that putting interns in touch with companies would be really beneficial for everyone. Madrid is becoming more and more international and it is also a great destination for foreigners. It made a lot of sense! I got in touch with David who was a friend from university because I had heard that he thought the same and was creating The Intern Group. I am very glad that I did so, because I now form part of this amazing team!
What does a typical day look like for the Director of Intern Madrid?
Luckily there is never really a typical day! From Monday to Friday, my team is at the office working on placements, program organization and events, so I go over details and improvements with them. I go to meetings with companies to find the best opportunities for students. We have a huge range of sectors and it is our duty in Madrid to provide excellent experiences for students so that they learn. This means learning specific tasks in their sector, as well as learning about less tangible things such as dealing with a boss, managing work, and just being in a completely different culture! The days are busy and students arrive each month, so we are always trying to get to know them and suggest interesting activities for them on our Facebook page.
What sets Intern Madrid’s programs apart from other internships in Spain?
The team at Intern Madrid is the first thing that comes to mind. I think it would be impossible to find a team that cares so much for the interns currently in country and those arriving. Everything is about them having the best experience. We always have an eye out for activities and events, we are in touch with them every week, and we make sure that everything is going well. We create a family for them in Madrid. Some interns are more independent than others, which is completely fine. The important thing is for them to know that we are always here for them.
Our companies also set us apart from other internships in Spain. We expect a lot from the companies because we know that the intern will give a lot and work hard. Therefore we make sure that they will train each intern and be there for them in case of any problems or doubts. The companies are excellent, both big and small companies, for the opportunities available. I have no doubt that we offer the best program in Madrid.
What are the most common types of internship placements available in Madrid?
I am incredibly proud to say that since Intern Madrid began a few years ago, I and my team have worked very hard to be able to provide all types of internships in Madrid. If a candidate is good, we don’t want to have to say no to them because we haven’t got a company in that sector! We offer what I consider more typical roles in finance, entrepreneurialism, and marketing, as well as more specialist roles, for example, in biochemistry, theatre, and I.T.
What are the most important characteristics you look for in applicants to The Intern Group’s programming in Madrid?
It is incredibly important that the candidate is motivated and a hard worker. Our programs are professional, and each company has been vetted as such. Therefore, we expect professionalism. Any candidate who passes the selection process will have impressed us with their attitude, experience, and knowledge. The best experiences are had by those who give the most at work. It is very rewarding, and the lessons learnt will last forever.
What kind of excursions or activities do you have for interns while they’re in Madrid?
Three events are included in each program. A day trip to Toledo with lunch included, a tour of the Bernabeu football stadium and lunch, and an evening of Flamenco and dinner. There is also a professional development workshop. On top of the included events, each month we create a Social Events Calendar. This calendar has various get togethers and suggestions so that each student can really explore Madrid and see the city that we, the “Madrileños”, know and love.
You have three masters degrees, speak three languages, and have worked all over Europe. How do you apply all of your skills and experience to your role as Director?
I think that, naturally, people learn every day. Thanks to having lived in so many countries and thanks to having studied so many different subjects, I think I am able to really understand the interns who come to Madrid and make sure they have the best learning experience. I also understand cultural difficulties, and I can see Madrid as a foreigner as well as a local. I think this is invaluable, and I always tell the interns to make the most of my knowledge! With regards to companies in Madrid, my background means that I have access to the best companies in Madrid, I can network easily, and I can find out about opportunities for our interns.
What is the biggest challenge interns in Madrid face?
I think the challenge that the interns face is similar in all international experiences. It is a culture shock. No matter how international someone thinks they are, there will always be differences and these can be frustrating. During our welcome talk we try to give as much detail as possible about these differences and make sure we are always available if an intern feels homesick or confused. A typical assumption is that the language is the biggest challenge, but there are many many foreigners living in Madrid who don’t speak Spanish and there is a huge international community. The language is never a big problem.
What’s the #1 career benefit of doing an internship in Madrid?
I think there are several benefits of interning in Madrid, but I think the number one would be the opportunities that you create for yourself in Madrid. If you really make the most of your time here, you will see that Madrid is a very open community of workers and entrepreneurs. Everyone wants to talk about their project, their business, and share ideas. There are many networking events to make business contacts and numerous presentation days to learn about business in Spain and internationally.
You might think that this is the same in other countries and perhaps the events offered are similar. However, the difference is the culture. We have a culture of recommendations and networking. If you make the most of your time here and go to these events, you are setting yourself up for a future of recommendations and a good base of contacts. It is essential to stand out and be personable in today’s business world.
Do you have plans of expanding Intern Madrid in any way?
We are constantly expanding because we want to offer more sectors and more niche areas so that each intern gets experience where they need it. In terms of expanding outside Madrid, for the time being, we have no plan to do so. Madrid is a huge centre of business and it is expanding within the city every day. Madrid is also a safe, lively, and fascinating capital and we believe it has everything to offer our interns!
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your role as Director with The Intern Group?
The most fulfilling aspect is also the saddest part of the role. It is when the intern leaves and goes back to their country. It is fulfilling because you see how much they have grown and matured. They tell you the best parts of their experience, and you feel proud to have been a part of it. To have been able to offer them something that will help them both personally and professionally is an incredible part of the job.