Settling into life as an Intern in Buenos Aires!

When we first arrived at Buenos Aires airport, I was over the moon! Being selected to travel out to South America with two other girls was a dream come true, more importantly with the opportunity to be working for a multinational pharmaceutical company! I was of course slightly anxious at the same time as I hardly knew the other girls, but as all three of us agreed to travel out a week or so early before starting the internship, I felt like we would have time to get to know each other and also get to know the city we would be living in for the forthcoming 8 weeks.


So in the first week, we got settled in to our apartment in Palermo, which is in the outskirts of the city and is generally a much safer area for tourists, particularly a group of girls. We successfully found an apartment using Air BNB’s website for a decent price, ensuring that the apartment had a bed for each of us, security and other facilities (such as lifts, etc). After having settled in to the apartment, we set out to explore the city and get used to the transportation services. We realised that transport was slightly more expensive than we had thought, particularly due to the inflation crisis and the strikes by bus drivers, but nonetheless, the University of Birmingham helped us and provided us with the additional funds that we needed after we got in touch. It was nice to know that the University was still on call to help us if we were stuck for any reason or if we had miscalculated our required expenses, as this was very important.

One of the greatest things that I realised in the first week was that every single Argentine person that I had met was so willing to help, so kind and so lovely. Many people do speak English, however I would highly recommend taking the time out to learn basic Spanish. It’s really difficult to learn Spanish in Argentina because it is very different to other Spanish-speaking nations (for example, double “ll” is pronounced “sch” e.g. calle is pronounced “cash-jhey”). Nonetheless, I have managed to pick up some basic Spanish whilst being out and about.

We went in to GSK’s office in the week before the first week of our internship, in order to introduce ourselves to our managers and soon-to-be colleagues, and also to make ourselves familiar with the travel route so that we didn’t arrive late on the Monday. The manager was absolutely lovely, and introduced the basics of the project we would be starting on Monday. As GSK is a British company, speaking Spanish was not a necessity within the office or for the project, but many employees do prefer to speak in Spanish (e.g. in meetings), and therefore it’s better to learn some Spanish so that you can contribute and understand what others are saying.


It was a good idea meeting the team before actually starting the job as we felt much more prepared for the week ahead. We then spent the rest of the weekend walking around the city (we found lots of free walking tours by searching Google) and we visited various markets, all of the historical/political sights in the city and learnt a lot within one week. Buenos Aires is truly a lively, creative and thriving capital city, with admirable street art located on every street corner, and live jazz bands performing at local pubs, and the food? Well… I’ll have to save that for my next blog entry as that will take some time to write about! But my goodness, there really is so much to see here. Luckily our hours are 9am-3pm, which gives us some additional hours to do some exploring around after work.

I’m excited to see what the forthcoming weeks are going to bring! The greatest thing though, is that I am getting closer and closer to Alice and Navneet (the other two girls from UOB), and I feel like we are going to become just like sisters.

By Farzana Miah

‘The show must go on!’, the life of an Intern at the English Theatre Frankfurt

5aThe first dress rehearsal on Wednesday evening went very well! We even joked that it had gone too well and unfortunately it had. On the second dress rehearsal of Alice in Wonderland (Thursday afternoon) Charlotte, who is one of the Alice’s, fell from the rope ladder and in doing so, fractured her ankle. Unfortunately, she had to go to the hospital and was unable to perform. The team found this very sad as she had been incredibly dedicated to the show and had been rehearsing for such a long length of time. However, the well-known phrase ‘the show must go on’ was used.

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Settling into working life at GSK in Buenos Aires!

With a month down, life here is becoming normality and day by day we are feeling more like porteñas (people from Buenos Aires). Our dinner times are becoming later, and the once disgusting traditional drink mate is becoming more palatable, tango has been attempted and we are eating our way through every part of the cow (insides included!).

Trying the local food

Trying the local food

We are also settling into work life at GSK. We have completed the entire supplier categorisation for Argentina, and validated each code with the category managers. The next step was to take on countries individually to speed things up. I have been working my way through the supplier lists for Venezuela and Costa Rica, and I am currently in communication with the procurement managers in those countries to make sure it’s completed properly. As we have received very little training in this project, at times it feels like guess work. However, GSK are very keen on the 70:20:10 model, whereby 70% of learning and development comes from on the job experiences, 20% is feedback from colleagues, and the remaining 10% is from formal training. Therefore, the more we continue with this project, the more we are learning from the mistakes we make and the questions we ask.

Our project manager, Estrella, is also very keen on us leaving our mark here at GSK. We are beginning to set aside a proportion of our time to develop something which will continue to be used once we leave, and will hopefully make a difference. We are currently planning on producing a handbook we gives a concise definition with example suppliers for each of the codes used in Latin America. Throughout the coding process we have discovered how subjective it can be, and how even category managers can be unsure as to which code to give based on the small description provided.  Next week we shall be presenting these plans along with our current progress to procurement directors for Latin America. Therefore, there is a lot more planning to be done and strategies to be made!

At weekends and evenings we have had lots of time to explore the city. We are working our way through a long list of museums, markets, parks and restaurants. Despite being here a month we are still not short of things to do! We have recently discovered the Buenos Aires equivalent of Boris bikes, which is a free government scheme and are perfect for post work sunset bike rides!

Sunset cycling!

Sunset cycling!

A couple of weekends ago we took a trip to Uruguay by boat to the sleepy city of Colonia. It’s a small historic town with lots of quaint cobbled streets, a lighthouse with an incredible panoramic view and lots of souvenir shops. There was not much to do other than to walk around and soak up the relaxed atmosphere, but it was nice to briefly escape the hustle of the city. Another recent personal highlight was running in a 15km race in the city. Without a huge amount of training, it was a bit of a shock to the system, but it was a great atmosphere joining in with thousands of other on a route across the city.

Site seeing

Site seeing

By Alice Wynne