Summer internship at the EU-LAC foundation: Bridging Europe and Latin America

Hi everyone! I am Karlijn from the Netherlands and in this blog post, I will share my experience doing a summer internship at the EU-LAC foundation.

Karlijn did a summer internship with EU-LAC
Karlijn did a summer internship with the EU-LAC Foundation.

My main reason for choosing the GLOCAL programme was for the possibility to study and live in Colombia, as my professional and academic career has been focused on Latin America for years. This summer, I had the unique chance to further develop my understanding of Latin America and the Caribbean through a three-month internship with the EU-LAC foundation, where I focused on the themes of economic and social development and climate change. I am excited to share more about this internship by elaborating on what the Foundation does, which tasks I performed, and about my overall experience throughout the summer.

The EU-LAC foundation is an international organisation that was founded in 2010 by its 61 members: 33 states from Latin America and the Caribbean, the 27 members of the European Union, and the European Union itself. The objective of the EU-LAC Foundation is to strengthen the strategic partnership between the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The foundation is located in Hamburg, which is, especially in the summer, a lovely city to live in.

Even though the focus of my internship was on economic and social development and climate change, I was involved in a wide array of tasks which allowed me to see other sides of the organisation and work with many different colleagues. I contributed, for example, to the publication of a book that discusses seven different trade agreements between Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU, through research for the concluding chapter. This significantly improved my understanding of the trade relations between the two regions. Additionally, I was involved in the organisation of various high-profile events in Latin America: for example, in November, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will come together, and the Foundation will be organising various side events. It was interesting to see how to organise and get the right people together, which themes are most relevant for discussion, and in general, how to organise such high-profile events. We also organised the Latin American and Caribbean Fall Festival in Hamburg, which was opened in Hamburg’s beautiful City Hall, with many Latin American and Caribbean ambassadors present.

Karlijn attending conferences at work
Karlijn attending the opening of the Latin American and Caribbean Fall Festival.

On the one hand, the internship aided my professional development. I learned a lot about the relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, which organisations are important in this relationship, and how economic and diplomatic connections are created and sustained. On the other hand, doing this internship gave me insight into which direction I wish to continue my career. I am so grateful for the amazing people that I got to know, and who I am sure I will keep seeing in the future.

Karlijn and colleagues at the EU-LAC Foundation.

Also not unimportantly, I improved both my Spanish and German — a lot. I already spoke Spanish fluently before starting, however, I never used Spanish in a professional environment. During the three months of my internship, I spoke Spanish almost exclusively, both in the office and with the other interns with whom I formed valuable and close friendships. Since I was living in Germany (and my native language Dutch is quite similar to German), I took advanced German classes after work and got my German to a fully fluent level, which was a fun and welcome surprise.

Overall, I had a lovely summer that substantially contributed to my professional and personal development. Nevertheless, I did have to think twice before taking this opportunity, because it would mean moving for the fourth time in a year to a new place. Moving to so many cities with the GLOCAL programme is fantastic, but also a bit hectic. Therefore, I had to stand still for a minute and think if starting again in a new city, instead of recharging in the summer, was the right choice for me to make. At the same time, one of my personal goals during this master was to figure out the type of organisation I wanted to work with after graduating, and high on this list was working for a diplomatic organisation. After I was accepted into this internship, I therefore asked to meet the person who would be supervising me to get a better idea of the organisation and the work I would be doing. This turned out to be a good decision, because after meeting this person I got a good feeling about the organisation and I decided to pack my bags again and head to Germany. I am very happy I did so.

Karlijn enjoying her decision to do the summer internship with EU-LAC
Karlijn enjoying her decision to do the summer internship with EU-LAC.

If you have any questions after reading this blog post, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via LinkedIn!