Claudia Romero never dreamed that she would be living in New York. She had visited the city but thought she wouldn’t like living there. It was just too hectic. All that changed after her transformational internship with the multinational company, the Libra Group. Now, Romero looks forward to returning to the city and making a life for herself there.
Thanks to the Libra Internship Program, Romero, who had never lived anywhere other than Miami, suddenly found herself in an exciting new life as she gained important experience and lay down the groundwork for her professional future.
“It was a life-changing experience,” said Romero. “Not only was I working at a great company with people who were involved with my progress and really seemed to care, I also had to learn how to do things for myself; cook, clean, live on my own and make adult decisions. It was like a snapshot of what my life could be like moving forward.”
The Libra Group’s coveted internships are awarded to over 100 young people each year. Internship roles are available in areas such as finance, marketing, non-profit administration, hotel operations, human resources, information technology, and more. Interns may be placed in key international locations including New York, Miami, London, Athens, and Buenos Aires.
By the time Romero learned about the opportunity last year, it was close to the deadline for submitting an application. She hesitated at first, thinking she probably wouldn’t be selected and also wondering if she could manage an internship along with her Honors College workload. But, she rallied herself, cast doubt aside and decided to go for it. She completed her application just in time to meet the deadline. To her surprise and delight, she was selected for an interview.
“I found the interview nerve-wracking,” Romero said. Mostly, she admits, because of the pressure she put on herself. But she also found the interview very useful because it got her to focus on her academic and personal interests, which helped identify potential placements within the Libra family of companies.
Shortly after the interview, Romero learned that she had been selected and would be spending nearly five months working for the prestigious Libra Group. Her next step was getting ready. The internship is designed like an actual job. Students get paid a salary by the company, which also picks up the cost of transport to the location of their internship. The student is responsible for procuring housing and all other expenses. Fortunately, Romero was able to stay with a relative who lives 40 minutes outside New York. This required a daily commute on the train. Coming from Miami where train rides just don’t happen for most people, Romero found a deep appreciation for this part of her daily routine which gave her time to study, plan her day, read, or just reflect on her experiences in New York.
I was working with important financial matters at a real company, something I hadn’t done before.
The first week of the internship was devoted to learning about the company. CEOs and other upper management staff briefed the interns on the company’s business. The Libra Group is a privately-owned business group with 30 subsidiaries operating across six continents. The organization is primarily focused on five core sectors: shipping, aviation, real estate, hospitality and energy. They also make some select diversified investments outside those areas. By then, Romero had developed a familiarity with the company but she was impressed to learn more details about the global scope of their work.
Working alongside industry professionals and providing real-life experience is a key component of the internships. Once orientation was over, Romero was put to work in the area of finance with the Libra Group. She was involved with in-house investment, corporate mergers, cash flow sheets for hotel properties and research into how local and environmental conditions were likely to affect company interests. Specifically, she studied Brazil’s political and social landscape as well as the ongoing drought and other climate change issues affecting the country.
“At first, I was unsure,” said Romero. “I was working with important financial matters at a real company, something I hadn’t done before. That’s why I was so grateful for my mentor, Steve. He was really helpful. He took a lot of time with me, answering all my questions and making sure I knew I had his full support.”
The Libra Group regularly pairs interns with mentors who act as their guides and help them navigate the unfamiliar landscape of corporate life. Steve remains a helpful figure in Romero’s life. She still reaches out to him often for career and practical advice.
Asked what advice she would give to potential interns, Romero replied, “Just go ahead and apply. Even if you’re not sure, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. It was a really valuable learning experience because I was always able to talk to people from different departments and get the kind of professional insights that you would never have access to in any other job. It was like being part of a family.”
The Libra Group is owned by a family of Greek origins and prides itself on fostering a congenial office environment. “They were so friendly. I’ve interned at other places and you tend to feel like an outsider because everyone else has been there a while. But at the Libra Group, everyone was really caring.”
Before the internship, Romero’s academic focus had been on Political Science. Since her internship, she has turned her attention elsewhere. She is currently enrolled at FIU, majoring in finance. That is directly due to her experience at Libra and a pivotal conversation with someone on staff who took the time to give her an overview of banking and finance and the way that work area is structured. To round out her studies in finance, she is currently seeking an internship in investment banking.
Asked for any final thoughts on her internship with the Libra Group, Romero said, “It was one of the best experiences of my life.”