Navigating a Bilingual Environment: My Internship Journey at Camino

Internships serve as a crucial bridge between academic learning and real-world application, offering students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of interest. My name is Natalie Johnson, and I am currently embarking on a new journey as a Public Relations intern at Camino, a bilingual and multicultural nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the Latino community. 

What sets my internship apart is not just the nature of the work but the unique opportunity of navigating a bilingual and multicultural environment as an English-only speaker. Join me as I reflect on the challenges, opportunities, and growth I’ve experienced throughout this journey. 

Challenges and Opportunity:

At Camino, an internship is far from mundane. I have been able to indulge in an immersive experience that has exposed me to the transformative impact of Camino’s mission. However, navigating a bilingual environment as someone who is non-bilingual presents its fair share of challenges, with language barriers being at the forefront. 

Initially, participating in meetings and interactions that required translation felt intimidating. However, I’ve come to see this challenge as a valuable opportunity both for professional and personal growth. Immersing myself in this environment has not only allowed me to pick up more Spanish but also deepened my appreciation for collaborative dynamics across diverse backgrounds. Embracing various perspectives, cultures, and mindsets in the workplace has proven to be highly beneficial, fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity and promoting well-rounded thinking among team members. 

This dynamic mirrors one of Camino’s values “we make soup, not salad,” emphasizing the notion that true unity cannot be achieved through a salad, where ingredients remain separate. Instead, like a soup, each individual contributes their unique flavor to the collective dish, creating a unified whole. This approach not only promotes unity but also sparks creativity and innovation, ultimately contributing to the overall success of Camino’s endeavors.

Professional Growth Opportunities:

By immersing myself in these experiences and embracing deepened perspectives, my internship experience has undeniably opened doors for my future. Having the opportunity to work with bilingual colleagues has not only allowed me to acquire unique skills but also to engage in diverse projects and participate in cross-cultural initiatives. Establishing connections with individuals from various linguistic backgrounds has broadened my professional network and honed my abilities to adapt, problem-solve, effectively communicate, and collaborate on a deeper level.

Furthermore, my internship experience has taught me the importance of fostering empathy in my work and leveraging my newfound perspective in navigating diverse cultural encounters moving forward.  These competencies have equipped me with invaluable skills and insights that will undoubtedly enrich both my personal and professional journeys.

Perspective Shifts:

Although this internship was intended for professional development, this experience has led to significant shifts in my personal perspective as well. Every interaction, whether with colleagues or community members, has deepened my appreciation for embracing and engaging with diverse cultures and perspectives. Engaging in conversations, sharing experiences, and learning from one another has enriched my worldview in ways I never anticipated. 

One particular service provided by Camino is its Church, which welcomes English and Spanish speakers from all backgrounds to come together for worship. Inspired by my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a couple of Sunday services at Camino Church. Just from these visits alone, it has been truly remarkable to witness people from diverse cultural backgrounds come together and create an impactful experience as one. 

Furthermore, observing the seamless translation between English and Spanish during the service is a one-of-a-kind experience that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. It is such a unique opportunity that church members have the privilege to experience, fostering one of the most authentic, connected communities. This inclusive approach has nurtured countless meaningful relationships, uniting the community as a whole. 


In short, my journey as an English-speaking intern at Camino has been a remarkable experience of growth, learning, and discovery. Embracing diversity and navigating the challenges of a bilingual environment has not only enhanced my professional skills but also broadened my personal perspective in profound ways. As I continue on my professional journey, I am grateful for the unexpected yet enriching opportunities I’ve accumulated at Camino.

This experience is both a privilege and a testament to the value of diversity in the workplace. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone regardless of background, to indulge in a bilingual workplace like Camino. The biggest mistake you can make is limiting yourself rather than taking an opportunity for growth!

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