Global Challenge 2014: GSK Procurement Internship, Buenos Aires: Blog 1

Hi, my name is Harriet and I have finished my second year studying International Relations and Spanish. I am currently doing an internship for GSK within procurement in one of their Buenos Aires, Argentina offices. Next year, I will be doing an Erasmus year in Madrid, so this internship is a great opportunity to improve my Spanish as well as working for a large successful enterprise.

This internship really stood out for me from the other Global Challenge internships for a number of reasons, firstly to be able to work in South America and work in another language would certainly be a challenge and a learning curve. Secondly, GSK is a great multinational organisation to work for and they treat their employees well. Thirdly, the prospect of being able to explore Buenos Aires.

I found out that two of us had got the GSK internship in Buenos Aires which was great as it took the pressure off a little with travelling to a new country and getting your bearings
In preparation for our departure, we had to sort out flights, accommodation and exchanging our pounds into USD. Pesos are the local currency in Argentina, but they are experiencing high inflation, so USD is a more stable currency to carry and then exchange once in the country.
We decided to share a flat together in central Buenos Aires. This was the hardest part prior to our departure as letting agencies and individuals were charging ridiculous amounts or huge deposits, but we sorted a flat out 2 weeks before Simeon arrived in Buenos Aires.

I arrived one week later in Buenos Aires after a long flight from Heathrow and got into a taxi to the flat. The taxi driver who spoke in a fairly heavy accent (just about manageable to understand!) proceeded to point out local points of interest, good places to get food, what to watch out for in terms of security and plenty of talk about the value of the peso!

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Buenos Aires seems pretty safe so far from what I have seen, but you do have to be careful, if you look like a tourist or flashing about your money/phone etc you will make yourself a victim, but this is the case with many other cities in Europe.
Thankfully as Simeon had already been in Buenos Aires for a week he had found his feet and acted as my tour guide on the first weekend.
We explored around our neighbourhood, the centre, visited the Recoleta cemetery which is absolutely incredible as the mausoleums have different architectural styles from Art Deco, Baroque to Neo-Gothic. Plenty of friendly stray cats too which Simeon was happy with as you can see in the photo!

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On Monday we got up at 7am in order to leave at 7:30 to make it into the office for 9am (a little bit later than some of the other employees who are here for 8:30). It takes about an hour and a half to get to work on the SUBTE (like the Underground) and the bus.
I was introduced to the other interns and employees who work within procurement at GSK and started with an induction from our manager about GSK and what our role would entail about the next 8 weeks.
The main purpose of our internship is to analyse the purchasing history from GSK employees and find out why they are not using the catalogues when during purchasing. Predominantly, we will be based in the office on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, though we were told that we will also get the opportunity to visit the newer central offices in order to provide some assistance to them with the catalogues.
Firstly the catalogues we are working on are for Costa Rica, then we will have to continue analysing the other catalogues for the rest of South America minus Brazil.
The way of life and work here is very relaxed and that is definitely demonstrated when people are queuing for the buses in orderly lines with nobody pushing or shoving, very different to London!
Everyone is very welcoming and very happy to help in Argentina from small problems to bigger ones, so you are never afraid to ask if you need something.
At work again it is very relaxed, you decide when you want to go to lunch and we tend to go in a group of at least six people, mainly interns, from Buenos Aires, Italy and US and we have an hour to chat and watch the football as we have the benefit of working during the World Cup.
Work life seems to be pretty relaxed so far too, we are doing a lot of communication with the offices in Costa Rica so sometimes have a bit of a wait in order to continue with the work we are supposed to as we are missing the required information! However I am sure it will pick up a little more soon as we become more familiar with the project. Good Excel skills are a must here! Most of our work is with Excel and analysing information through excel, so without a good knowledge I think we would be pretty lost.
On Wednesday, work seemed to stop entirely! Argentina were playing at lunchtime, GSK were showing the game during office hours for the employees so most people will leave straight after the game. The atmosphere for the World Cup does not seem to be as intense as I would have expected it to be; we managed to catch the Argentina V Iran game on the Saturday and when Messi scored we could hear the neighbouring flats celebrating, people going out onto their balconies waving the flag and taxis beeping in the street. However, on a daily basis, unless Argentina is playing nobody seems to put too much importance in to the World Cup.

The second week we are focusing on the Argentine catalogues, creating new catalogues for the branch we are working at so they can be uploaded onto the system to improve functionality and efficiency for future orders. Our direct line manager has signed us up for an Excel course with the other interns and employees so that will probably take place in the third or fourth week of the internship.

I have had a really good couple of weeks so far and looking forward to the weekend of watching the football and a night with some of the other interns and employees.

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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