Hello everyone! My name is Natalie Meyer and I am the Legal and Administrative intern at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this semester. I am a current student of Spanish and Classical Studies at Randolph-Macon College. I spent last semester living and studying in Málaga, Andalucía, Spain. I went to the Universidad de Málaga where I took four classes in La Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, which is known as the Humanities back here in the States.
Living and taking classes abroad has helped me to land this internship, as well as to prepare me for a bilingual workplace. Through my complete immersion in the classroom and in everyday life, I was forced to learn new vocabulary and use verb tenses I never thought I would need (hello, subjunctive!). This has translated well to working at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as you never know what verb tenses you may need to use in order to converse with clients and community members. Having this knowledge and experience in the Spanish language and culture is particularly helpful for me as I run the legal clinics that are after normal business hours. Most attendees of these clinics do not speak English, or if they do, it is limited. Having a general conversational fluency has been insurmountably important in allowing me to connect and help these clients.
I believe that interacting with Spanish speakers while living in Spain has equipped me to calmly and easily transition into working with people of the Hispanic Community of Richmond. When I am at ease, the clients are at ease. This is key during the legal clinics when people are nervous or scared about their case, the American legal process, or speaking with a lawyer. It is truly a blessing to be able to help them in such a big way.
If you are a college student and have the ability to live abroad, you should go for it! I promise that it will be a massive help in any workplace you may find yourself in. As for internships, being at the VAHCC has been rewarding for quite a few reasons. Personally, it has kept my Spanish language skills fresh while simultaneously allowing me to help the Hispanic community in the Richmond area.
This post reflects the views and opinions of our Legal and Administrative Intern, Natalie Meyer