My first few posts to the Intern Matters blog have attempted to provide employers with a basic understanding of Hispanic culture and how its characteristics can potentially influence the performance of Hispanic interns in an organization. I believe that understanding the nuances of Hispanic culture – and just not comparing it to mainstream culture – is important to helping effectively manage Hispanic interns in any organization. Over the course of my initial posts, we’ve learned that Hispanics are certainly not a heterogeneous group. Hispanics constitute an assortment of countries, races, and experiences. Yet, as I’ve noted in my first few blog posts, Hispanics share many common values and beliefs.
However, creating an awareness of these cultural differences is only the start. We’ve learned that Hispanic cultural values and attitudes can play an interesting role in determining how Hispanic interns might behave, observe, and think as they interact in the work setting. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that some of these introductory concepts are vague – and might even lack clear and concise definitions. And while some of the concepts I’ve introduced such as familiasm, personalismo, or simpatia might not have literal English translations, they’ve hopefully provided a basis for cultural awareness, knowledge, and understanding. My goal was to inspire a sense of cultural empowerment; building a sense that cultural understanding can lead to increased participation, performance, and belonging on the part of your interns.
We’ve learned that Hispanic cultural traits are interdependent and are highly founded on connectedness and relationships. By understanding Hispanic culture, employers, as well as interns, are better able to improve their overall performance and effectiveness. How?
1. By knowing that an employer “gets” their cultural background and experiences, Hispanic interns will be more motivated to perform and contribute;
2. By increasing cultural knowledge and awareness, both supervisors and interns learn more about each other and about themselves;
3. By acknowledging their cultural background, interns’ sense of self-worth and confidence are increased significantly; and
4. By fostering a positive cultural connection, interns’ desire to build more relationships within the organization will also grow.
These are only a few of the lessons I hope to have provided in these first few posts – broadening the perspective of Hispanic culture as well as the Hispanic experience. In future posts, I hope to build on these ideas and concepts to provide more practical illustrations, and discuss how we can continue to increase mutual understanding and learning.