GRIP, Internships Abroad Reflection on my experiences in Medellin

September 14, 2021
By Emily Grossarth, HUNTSMANS '24

Sempli- Medellin, Colombia

Upon starting my internship, I never thought it would be as difficult as it was to say goodbye to Sempli. Over the course of eight weeks, I engaged in six different projects focused on internationalization, investors, banks, benchmark evaluations, Colombian fintechs, and even the development of a new product. Although my time at Sempli has now ended, what I have learned from my internship will last far longer than eight weeks. From an academic standpoint, I have identified future classes that I am excited to take at Penn focusing on business in Spanish-speaking countries. Looking further into the future, I would love to pursue a career focusing on Latin American markets as professionally, there is both great potential for growth and personally, I would be privileged to engage in an array of beautiful cultures filled with wonderful people. 

Although my internship was based out of Medellín, Colombia, I was surprised at how often my work engaged with other Latin American countries, truly enhancing my global experience. Colombia has the third-largest small business lending market in Latin America, behind Mexico and Brazil, but is also rivaled by Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile. As a result, my projects often analyzed similar fintechs across these six countries providing a deeper understanding of the region both from a business and cultural perspective. Despite my internship being in Spanish, a few times I found myself looking through research entirely in Portuguese which allowed me to pick a few words!

Reflecting personally upon my eight weeks spent at Sempli, I am proud of how comfortable I became with being uncomfortable. At the beginning of my internship, I was incredibly focused on making sure my Spanish was perfect, but I came to realize that it is through candid experience with the language that I would allow myself to truly grow as a student. I was also nervous to ask questions, whether that be asking someone to repeat what they had said because I didn’t understand it or asking for clarification on a project. However, my experiences were maximized when I allowed myself to be vulnerable and ask questions as I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the task or concept at hand. The Sempli team was always very understanding and offered their help to me in any way they could. I am incredibly grateful for GRIP and Sempli’s support throughout my internship as it allowed me to grow academically, personally, and professionally. 

GRIP Logo

The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.