IEP Alumni Feature: When Opportunity Knocks

Robyn Johnson  20
Spanish IEP and Industrial and Systems Engineering

When the pandemic sent me back home to the Midwest in March 2020 halfway through my final semester at URI, I wasn’t sure what the future would hold. I had finished my year abroad in Chile with the IEP in Fall 2019, and it had a huge impact on me – I was actually hoping to return to continue working there after graduating. However, with the uncertainty of the pandemic at the time, I decided to apply for jobs close to home. 

I found a position with Nestlé based in St. Louis, Missouri within the digital manufacturing field, deploying new technology to improve factory efficiency. Although it was difficult to begin my first full-time job completely remotely, I joined a very supportive team where I was able to learn a lot very quickly. One advantage of joining a global company is the opportunities it holds for international assignments. It just so happens that Nestlé’s global hub for the manufacturing technology I was working with in my role in St. Louis is located in Barcelona, Spain. After expressing interest in relocating and fulfilling the requirements to be qualified, I was able to move to Barcelona in the fall of 2022. In my current role I am working with the same digital tools as before, but focused more on enhancing the applications for the future rather than simply deploying them in factories. 

My experience studying and working in Chile with the IEP has helped me tremendously to settle down here in Barcelona. In addition to being able to utilize my Spanish, I also felt more prepared to work with colleagues from different professional backgrounds – almost everyone on my team here is from a different country around the world. Most of all, it gave me the confidence to pursue opportunities in my career such as this one.

At this point, I plan to spend the next year or so in Barcelona, then bring the knowledge I gain from my time here back with me to my role back in the US.

Through my connections at my office in Barcelona, I hope to establish a relationship between my company and the IEP in order to help other Spanish IEP students land an internship here before I leave.