Internships in Merida lead to career possibilities for rising seniors

Posted by Centre News in Internships, News, Spanish, Study Abroad 11 Aug 2014

Eric Theodore Merida Photo 1 PSParticipating in an internship is crucial for networking and gaining relevant career experience, and interning abroad offers the additional benefit of immersion in another culture. Two students at Centre College, Eric Theodore ’15 (pictured above) and Trent Haffler ’15, are spending the summer interning in Merida, Mexico, trying out potential careers and developing their Spanish. Both students studied abroad in Merida with the Centre-in-Mexico program this past fall and fell in love with the city and its people.

“I am definitely one of the many Centre students to have caught the Merida fever,” says Theodore, a studio art major with a double minor in Spanish and English from Knoxville, Tenn. “The culture is open, festive and friendly. I could see myself living here.”

Theodore’s internship is with Habla, an education center that teaches language in artistic and creative ways. He’s an instructor at a bilingual summer camp for children called The Creative Space, which integrates visual arts, music, dance and theater to teach both English and Spanish.

Theodore first began working at Habla last fall while studying abroad. His supervisors were so pleased with his work that they offered him a summer position. Theodore is thrilled to have landed an internship that combines all of his passions.

“I love working at Habla. Working with kids in a bilingual setting that promotes the arts is an amazing experience and one that utilizes all of my strengths and areas of study,” says Theodore.

Interning in another country presents a unique set of challenges, however. For instance, Theodore says he and his coworkers each have a different native tongue, so they have had to overcome significant language barriers.

“This has opened my eyes even more to the complexity of language and the challenge of pursuing fluency,” he says. Trent Haffler Merida Picture

Theodore’s internship was made possible in part by funding from the Centre Education Fellowship, which provides financial support to students participating in education-related internships. Theodore says he would love to teach someday, so this experience is especially meaningful for his future.

Not far away is the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where Haffler (pictured right) has been working as a trainee in the sales department. He primarily manages contracts, quotes and group bookings for events that will be hosted in the hotel.

While living in Merida last fall, Haffler knew he wanted to return to the city, so he used the opportunity to job hunt and make contacts. He ultimately secured a position at the Hyatt.

An economics and Spanish double major from Louisville, Ky., Haffler hopes to pursue a career in business after Centre, so this internship will provide him with needed real-life experience. “This is the first career-oriented job I have had and from actually doing the work to receiving pointers from the general manager of the hotel, I would say I am learning a lot.”

Haffler has also enjoyed certain cultural differences in the work environment.

“Working in a Mexican office is by far more laid-back and relaxed than in the U.S.,” he explains. “There’s a lot more casual conversation that goes on during the work day,”

As a result, instead of feeling like an outsider, Haffler has been able to establish close professional relationships with his colleagues.

“I could not have asked for a better internship,” he says.

by Caitlan Cole