Lawrence Scholars in Business (LSB) Internship Reflections, First Impressions-Ali Heiring

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Mollie Kaebisch

Arriving at the Hurar Investment Group for my first day was both exciting and intimidating; I had only been in Spain for about one week and was still adjusting to the new language, culture, and pace of life.  I came to the office, which was a flurry of activity, and was greeted by my supervisor.  I was shown the entire office, introduced to the rest of the employees, and then given an office of my own from which I would work.  The work done through Hurar Investment Group is focused on hotels – purchasing property around the city of Málaga, designing a hotel for the space, pitching to investors for funding, building the hotel, and turning over the finished hotel to someone else to manage.  I am interested in economics and sustainable development so I was curious to see how the government regulations regarding new building construction in Spain compared with the United States.  I was given a copy of the Documento Básico, which outlines the energy requirements for new buildings to meet regarding energy demand, building materials, solar hot water heaters, and the use of solar or renewable energies.  This was my first experience reading technical Spanish, so it was equal parts frustrating and rewarding.  I discovered that the energy requirements were much more progressive than I had anticipated- 50% of all hot water must be heated through solar, and approximately 20% of the hotels energy demand is met by renewable energy.

I am very excited to see what my opportunities are as my work progresses here, between the architectural components of designing passive solar buildings and reviewing the cash flow statements of hotels to create accurate estimates of costs and revenues.  After learning about the technical aspects of the hotels, I will be able to incorporate my knowledge into the marketing presentations that are shown to potential investors.  I hope to emphasize the sustainability efforts of the hotels, because this is becoming a more important element for potential tourists and many of the competing hotels do not mention their conservation and sustainability programs. This could provide an edge for Hurar Investment Group, and would give me hands-on marketing experience.  All of the documents I work with are written in Spanish, which is helping me improve my language skills, but has also shown me the difficulties of working in a non-native language.  I have a better understanding of the challenges that non-native English speakers face daily in America.  On a large scale, having the opportunity to work abroad and experience the cultural differences in workplaces and customer relationships will be eye-opening and challenging, and will ultimately allow me to return to the US as a more well-rounded employee suited to work in an international company.

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