Since the launch of our Global Perspectives Program in 2020, we’ve been shouting from the rooftops about the benefits of a virtual internship. (Ahem, such as gaining a global perspective, jump-starting your career and expanding your professional network to start). We’ve been just as excited to hear amazing testimonials from our students about the long-term impact their internship experiences are having on their personal and professional growth.
We know how important alumni testimonials can be in making your decision about participating in a virtual internship. Fortunately, the positive stories are rolling in! Find out what Taylor had to say about her virtual internship in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Fostering Entrepreneurship in Uruguay
For anyone, including myself, that has doubted the value and effectiveness of a virtual internship, I can now attest to the long-standing positive impact this opportunity has had on both my personal and professional growth. During the summer of 2020, I interned with Socialab Uruguay, an NGO based out of Montevideo that provides mentorship and funding to social entrepreneurs’ projects that aim to socially, financially and culturally include marginalized populations across the country. The organization hosts contests, every couple of months, that call upon social entrepreneurs with project ideas that target the contest’s specific inclusive development strategy: comprehensive education, increased labor opportunities, environment preservation, etc. The winner is provided with funding and guidance to develop his/her start-up that aims to fulfill one (or more) of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
One of my main tasks was to translate the organization’s Measurement Impact Report from Spanish to English. This was used to expand collaborations with English-speaking social impact investors and communicate the organization’s impact with other social impact organizations to facilitate brainstorming. Additionally, I worked directly with the entrepreneurs through various online platforms (Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams) on their pitches in English. The team first suggested a sort of English club format; however, I later found that I wanted this task to serve as an initiative and resource for the entrepreneurs to bring their projects to an international context, when appropriate. For example, there is a startup that works to employ individuals with down-syndrome. This inclusive strategy is not limited to the context of Uruguay, so a goal of mine in the future is to help entrepreneurs find other social entrepreneurs working with a similar inclusive strategy and population.
After my internship, I was offered an extension by Socialab to serve as the representative during bi-weekly meetings with a company called Ashoka that aims to connect social entrepreneurs across regions. Socialab launched an online platform called Comprometidos that connected young social entrepreneurs from across Latin America and the Caribbean and encouraged collaborations. I was honored to be a part of this project as it paralleled exactly what I aimed to do with the entrepreneurs I worked with during my virtual internship!
I had such an insightful experience with Socialab Uruguay that I have decided to study abroad this upcoming August 2021 in Montevideo. I voiced that I was coming to the executive team at Socialab, and I was told I have a team waiting for me! Through this upcoming in-person internship opportunity, I will observe firsthand the link between social entrepreneurship and inclusive and sustainable development. I am interested in pursuing a career in development economics, so my exposure to the raw statistics within the Measurement Impact Report, future collaborations with the executive team (with backgrounds in economics, microfinance, graphic design, management, etc.) and interactions with the entrepreneurs will serve as fantastic resources and sneak peeks into the growing field of International Development.
As a final note, I would like to highlight that the networking opportunities were wonderful. My boss, Ale, was a mentor for me as she has a background in economics and micro-finance, two fields that interact with Development Economics. I asked her how she ended up running such a successful, growing social impact NGO. Additionally, I have contacts that have been helping me find organizations in Montevideo that work with Venezuelan refugees. My research focuses on human sex trafficking and statelessness of refugee and migrant populations as well as the role of human development theory as a method to address these urgent issues. I am curious to see if a future contest could focus on the inclusion of these populations that would generate an environment of solidarity and hope for these individuals.
Taylor is an International Studies major with a regional focus in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a minor in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance, at the University of Florida. She participated in the Global Perspectives Virtual Internship in Montevideo, Uruguay during Summer 2020.