Something Different Each Day

Posted on Monday, Nov 06, 2017

At 10:00 AM on a crisp fall Monday morning, the Senior Commercial Service Officer approached my desk. “Are you busy?” he asked. Working on a list of the Best Mexican Restaurants in Madrid for future interns, I looked up and said, “No, not really.” The next thing I knew, we were in a taxi with another Trade Specialist on our way to a Madrid Chamber of Commerce meeting. Passing a grand, neoclassical building guarded by statues of lions, the Trade Specialist told me, “That’s the Madrid Parliament.” The taxi veered onto a narrow street and we found ourselves in the predominately pedestrian and always lively center of Madrid. Exiting the taxi in the Plaza Santa Ana, a known hangout of author Ernest Hemmingway, we walked down a cobblestone street to our destination. From the outside, the balcony-lined, red brick building blended in to the typical enchantment of a European capital city. Inside, however, angels danced on the gold-trimmed ceilings and we found ourselves surrounded by the splendor of a 16th century urban palace, Palacio SantoƱa.

The day-long chamber meeting included panel discussions, presentations, and networking sessions for Spanish entrepreneurs dreaming of breaking in to the U.S. market. One woman, who successfully took her fashion label from Europe to New York City and eventually to Asia explained that “making it in the U.S. is the key to making it in the world.” Later during the coffee break, a man told me that the U.S. Embassy is very powerful within Spain when I told him I am interning there. These statements resonated with me and made me think about the work of my office and the power of commercial diplomacy.

This semester, I am interning at the Commercial Service office of the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion unit of the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In sum, the U.S. Department of Commerce is the Cabinet department of the federal government concerned with promoting economic growth. The International Trade Administration is an agency within the Department of Commerce that works to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, promote exports and investment, and ensure fair trade through the enforcement of trade laws and agreements. The U.S. Commercial Service operates in over 100 cities in the United States and 80 countries world-wide to help advance U.S. economic interests.

In Madrid, the U.S. Commercial Service office helps American companies export their goods and services to Spain as well as Spanish companies that wish to invest in the United States. With a team of 10 Trade Specialists, the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Madrid offers a range of services that include providing market research reports, identifying trade opportunities and local business partners, product promotion, intellectual property protection, and counseling throughout the export process.

I am currently one month in to my internship and no two days have been alike. Due to the variety of the American companies the Commercial office serves, I have learned about the Spanish port system as well as the e-book, machine tooling, and digital marketing industries among others. My daily tasks include conducting market research, preparing informational broches about Spanish industries, translating between English and Spanish, and managing client interactions. My coworkers, dedicated trade professionals, have proven excellent mentors. And I recently discovered the commissary store in the Embassy that is stocked with American goodies, such as Reese’s and Kosher Pickles. Over the coming months, I am looking forward to the arrival of the new Ambassador to Spain, the Embassy’s famous Halloween party, and to continue learning and participating in the work of the U.S. Commercial Service.

Jaime Sepulveda
U.S. Commercial Service
Madrid, Spain | fall 2017

PPIP intern, Jaime Sepulveda (right), at the residence of the US Ambassador to Spain