Tapas, Gaudí and procurement – working in Barcelona as a combined degree student

Saludos desde España! My name is Pia Winthuis and I’m a combined degree student with Covestro. Right now I’m working in the beautiful city of Barcelona – all as part of my degree program!

In this blog post I want to tell you a little about my experience of working abroad with Covestro. But first of all, here are a few facts about myself:

I am 21 years old and have been studying for a degree in Management and International Business Studies (MIBS) with Covestro for just over a year. Originally I’m from Dortmund, but I moved to Leverkusen when I joined Covestro.

Currently I’m working in Procurement at Covestro S.L. in Barcelona, as part of my fourth work placement within the combined degree program. I love travelling and have already spent a year in the USA. I therefore really appreciate this opportunity to combine seeing the world with studying for a degree!

Gaining international experience thanks to Covestro
Work experience abroad is an integral part of Covestro’s MIBS combined degree program, and placements are available at a number of different locations throughout Europe. For me it was clear straight away that I wanted to do this in Barcelona, since I’ve always been a fan of the city and its mentality. I’m also due to sit the Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) in May, so this is a great way to improve my Spanish ahead of taking the exam.

After submitting my CV to apply for the placement in Barcelona, I was invited to a short Skype interview, so my colleagues in Spain could get to know me a little. I told them about my hopes and expectations for this placement and what kind of work I’d been doing so far. They obviously considered me a good match, as a few days later I was given the thumbs-up!

My life in the Catalan capital
I live in a small apartment right in the center of Barcelona and I absolutely love it here. The city is really bustling and quite noisy, but I got used to that very quickly. The Covestro offices are a little further outside, so I’m commuting by metro every day. My journey takes about 40 minutes, but the trains are very punctual and frequent – about one every minute. My working day starts at 8 o’clock in the morning.

I like the department I work in and the tasks I’m given are really interesting. They range from investigating discrepancies between prices quoted and those given in the final invoice to negotiating with logistics companies about transporting hydrogen chloride (HCI) for us, to give just two examples.

Occasionally I get to translate emails or other documents, which gives me a chance to practice my Spanish. And, since I work on a variety of tasks in both Procurement and Trading, I get a really good overview of the many different aspects of procurement.

My colleagues here have made me feel very welcome right from the start and are making sure I’m enjoying my time in their city.

I use my free time to see as much as possible of Barcelona, taking cycling trips along the seafront promenade or visiting some of the city’s many landmarks, such as the Sagrada Familia by Antonio Gaudí. I also love the food here and don’t miss an opportunity to try the delicious tapas. The weather is great too, even in winter. I don’t think I’ve had a single day without sunshine. Barcelona is full of things to discover and I don’t think I will ever get bored of this city.

Praise where praise is due
I think that this work placement is a great example of Covestro applying its company values of “curious, courageous and colorful” by enabling its employees to broaden their horizons. Even as a student or trainee, you’re given opportunities like this to gain exciting new experiences in another country, learn about different cultures and appreciate the company’s diversity. I feel that I myself have also become more “curious, courageous and colorful” as a result!

If you have any questions about Covestro’s combined degree program, feel free to get in touch with me.

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Hasta luego!