An interview with Alex Pickersgill: Marketing Intern at Oxford University Press Spain.
Alex, 22, is currently working towards a degree in Business & Marketing at Sheffield Hallam University; he’s just finished a year’s work experience in Madrid and is now completing his final year of university. Originally from Darlington, County Durham, he has lived in Sheffield and, of course, Madrid.
You have spent the last year working as an intern at Oxford University Press in Madrid. What made you decide to do your internship there?
As part of my course, it’s heavily encouraged that we should take a year out for a work placement. After spending 21 years in England, I figured it was time to switch things up a bit, so I started looking for placements in the USA and Europe. Unfortunately, my English charm failed to secure any marketing jobs in the States. However, after agreeing to have my C.V. sent to workplaces that have relationships with my University, I received a Skype interview invitation from OUPE.
When the interview day came, I put my finest shirt on over my pyjamas and carefully angled the webcam to hide the various notes I had scribbled around my laptop that let me list off various facts about the company. The next thing I knew I was flying over the desert grasslands of Madrid with no knowledge of Spanish, questioning my life decisions.
What sort of projects were you involved in?
A large part of my job was to upload and maintain files on Oxford Premium, our website for teachers in Spain to remotely access their course material on PCs or mobile devices. However, I also was involved in creating PowerPoint presentations for teacher conferences, creating an advert for our digital catalogue, and various other tasks.
What was the best part of your experience?
The best parts have been the challenge and sense of accomplishment of being dropped into a new job in a strange country and managing quite well. Summer lasts more than 6 days here as well, which is always nice.
What was the most challenging part of your experience?
The first few months were the most difficult; I arrived with no knowledge of Spanish, having never studied it, into a flat without internet, into a dreary town on the outskirts of Madrid, however eventually I moved into Madrid. Workwise, rising at 6:45am each morning has been a large shift from my university schedule of waking mid-afternoon.
Did you enjoy living and working in Madrid? What were some of the highlights of your year?
I’ve had a tremendous time living and working here, I’ve faced some of my greatest challenges, pushing my comfort zone as far as possible, having entire conversations through the medium of mime when my Spanish failed me. Various highlights include travelling around the south of Spain, a weekend away in Lisbon, sneaking onto the roof terrace of a five-star hotel with my friend and having it all to ourselves. I saw a donkey at one point too, which was pretty great. See earlier picture.
In the future would you like to continue working in educational publishing? Why? Why not?
My main passion lies in marketing, rather than a specific sector, I’d like to gather experience from as many varying products and services as possible. However, I’d be more than happy to work within educational publishing or for Oxford again if the opportunity presented itself.