I’ve just finished my first week here with the procurement department of GSK in San Jose, Costa Rica. After about a 17 hour journey I arrived in San Jose around 9pm and a representative of GSK picked me up from the airport and took me to the place where I’m staying. Costa Rica doesn’t have street names or numbers; instead they choose a landmark and describe where the location is from there. For example the office address is ‘400 metres east of the Bandera roundabout’ or my address is ’50 metres north of the Perimercados supermarket’. So I was glad someone from GSK picked me up from the airport, as there’s no way I would have been able to direct a taxi driver to that address late at night!
I spent the first couple of days here getting used to my surroundings, finding out where the bank and supermarkets are and working out how to get to the office for Monday morning. One thing I noticed straight away was that most things are a lot more expensive here than I thought they would be. Everything is pretty much the same price as it is in the UK and I would say food probably costs more. The only exception is public transport which is really cheap (my bus to work costs the equivalent of 30p). The conversion rate is also confusing and difficult to work out in your head (£1 is about 755 Costa Rican colones), so I often wasn’t aware of how much something was until after I’d bought it.
The first day of the internship was mainly an introductory day, as I was shown around the office, introduced to everyone and went over the project I will be working on and what is expected of me. Although I spent a year abroad in Spain, my Spanish is far from perfect. It is very useful that everyone in the office speaks perfect English, so I can ensure that I properly understand everything. I was also told how the department is organised across Central America and the Caribbean (the area which I will be working in), which will be useful if I need to contact these people in the future.
My main objective during my time here is to increase the use of e-catalogues in the Central American and Caribbean region and during the first few days I was able to speak to one of the procurement managers who has a lot of experience in e-catalogues. As a result I learnt a lot of useful information about e-catalogues and how best to implement them in the Central American and Caribbean region, which gave me a good understanding of what I will be doing on this project. My next job was to analyse a lot of data on suppliers and spend to identify opportunities to implement catalogues. I will have to present this information in a meeting next week. Overall I think this internship will be a challenge, but I can also already see that I will learn a great deal from it.
I spent the weekend exploring the markets, museums and other tourist spots of San Jose, as well as sorting out some things that I didn’t have a chance to do before, such as getting a Costa Rican SIM card. Most people have said that there isn’t that much to see in San Jose, but there are so many different areas of Costa Rica that are worth seeing. Some of the people I’m living with know Costa Rica well and have given me a list of places to go whilst I’m here. I’ve already realised that my time to do everything I want to do here is fairly limited, so I really need to make sure I make the most out of the weekends. Luckily some people from work have already offered to take me to some of these places.
I’m looking forward to learning more from my internship in the next couple of weeks and hopefully seeing more of Costa Rica.