The term “study abroad” can sometimes evoke vacation mode, a fun opportunity to earn credits while exploring a different culture. However, for rising senior Skylar Strotz (Communication, Sociology) it also meant completing a challenging yet rewarding communications internship, all in a foreign language. Strotz is among the first students selected for UW’s new ¡SpainWorks! internship program, in partnership with UW’s León Center, the Career and Internship Center, and UW Communication.
Traveling from Madrid, where she participated in a program hosted by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), to a smaller town like León was a big adjustment for Strotz, and ¡SpainWorks! pushed her further out of her comfort zone. Whereas in Madrid, Strotz lived with American friends in student housing, in León she lived like a local, conducting her work completely in Spanish while living with a Spanish host family.
“The program has been much more of a deep dive into the culture and the language, getting to experience a different way of life rather than just being in it,” she said.
Strotz was responsible for outreach and marketing at the newly formed EURECA-PRO Alliance (La Alianza Eureca-Pro), through the University of León. The alliance, consisting of nine universities across Europe, focuses on sustainability and responsible production and consumption. She also served as the organization’s translator, as no one on the León team spoke English.
During her internship, Strotz worked on a sustainability fashion show called “Moda Circular,” or circular fashion, and collaborated with the local city hall, news station, fashion school, and dance school. Strotz even appeared on the local news to promote EURECA-PRO and the fashion show.
Strotz is proud of her professional accomplishments in León: “[Moda Circular] has become a whole community-wide event, which was my goal,” Strotz said. “It was not easy to get there.”
She added that her experiences in León have changed her perspectives on communication, noting that everything she knew about social media and marketing worked differently in another country.
“I think you get everything out of this experience,” Strotz said.
¡Spain Works! was created by two Department of Communication emeritus professors, Dr. Jerry Baldasty and Dr. Randy Beam, who are active in arranging media and communications internships for students at organizations and businesses in León.
To learn more about applying to the ¡Spain Works! internship program in Fall 2023, visit: https://careers.uw.edu/resources/scholarship-for-immersive-internships-in-leon-spain/
To learn more about other Communication study abroad programs at UW’s León Center, visit: https://com.uw.edu/undergraduate/study-abroad/