My name is Claire and I’m a senior interning at Mercado Global, a Brooklyn based accessories brand and non-profit that empowers rural Latin American women to become entrepreneurs. I applied to this internship way back in December when I was studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. In Madrid I found myself questioning how I was going to maintain my Spanish language proficiency over the summer, leading me to apply to internships with a Spanish speaking aspect. Mercado Global seemed like the perfect fit due to its unique and inspiring mission to provide rural Guatemalans with a living wage, financial literacy and a means to an overall improved livelihood.
I started working for MG in late May and have been busy every second since I started. Going into the internship, I knew what the operations sector of a company did but had no idea the scope of it’s work. I work directly for the Operations Manager, Becky, who has taught me so much about how to run a company that I don’t even know where to start. Firstly, since our company is mainly based in Guatemala, we manage all of the wholesale clients in the United States and abroad, along with our Sales Manager. The majority of our employees are not proficient in English, so we are one of the main points of communication for the company. Furthermore, we fulfill all of the sales requests from our small Brooklyn office, where we hold our inventory that is shipped bimonthly from Guatemala. As a non-profit, we are short staffed, so the operations department overlaps with every department in the company. My day to day work has included maintaining constant communication with our Manager of Production in Guatemala to fulfill orders and submit requests (in Spanish), overseeing inventory and large shipments, generating sales reports for feedback, running our ecommerce platform, planning trunk shows and MG events and communicating with donors regarding financing and major sales clients such as Nordstrom and Levis. Although I could not possibly list everything I have accomplished this summer at MG due to my position’s all encompassing duties, I believe I have gained extremely valuable insight into how a non-profit and even simply a small retail company is run. After this summer, I truly believe I have the skills necessary to run a small company in the future.
For example, during the month of July, Becky (the Operations Manager) was on vacation for three weeks, leaving me to run operations. Becky is extremely meticulous in her work, like all Operations Managers have to be, leaving me a comprehensive list on how to keep the company afloat in her absence. Even though the list was helpful, there were many situations in which I was left to critically think and problem solve for myself. One occasion in particular really stuck out to me, in which there was a massive miscommunication with one of our most loyal clients, a small boutique in North Carolina. Apparently, the client was unaware that their shipment would be delayed by a few weeks due to slowed production in Guatemala. Occasionally, our production is put at a stand still from a delayed product shipment to Guatemala, in this case the beads we ordered for a specific bag was stopped at customs. When answering the phone to this very disgruntled store owner, I initially had zero to no idea about who they were or what shipment they were even talking about. Throughout the day, I had to figure out what the problem was by calling customs in Guatemala, communicate the issue to the client, reroute the package internationally, then convince the client not to pull their whole order altogether. Understandably, the client was not very happy with us, as their credit card was charged and was not properly made aware of the shipment delay. After three days of back and forth with the client in which they were adamant about cutting ties with Mercado Global, I convinced them not only to continue doing business with us but to place another order for the fall. This situation is an example of how my internship not only included simple company operations but sales as well, something I found to be extremely stimulating.
Throughout the summer, MG had booths at numerous trunk shows in which I was responsible for picking product to fit the needs of the consumers, organizing transportation and implementation and communicating with the trunk show hosts. Here is a photo of one of our trunk shows last week at the Javits Center in Manhattan. We started with a blank canvas and after 8 hours of tireless work, we turned our booth into this!
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed working for Mercado Global and having a job that I am passionate about. Leaving work every day I find myself elated and feeling a sense of purpose that I find highly fulfilling. I will forever remember this experience as a very valuable one and one that I am eternally grateful for.