Kere arrived in Barcelona, Spain in January 2016 for her internship in the Business Development department at CaixaBank Consumer Finance, the consumer financing leg of La Caixa, Spain’s largest bank (in terms of market share). After about a month, she joined a new department, which was launched in order to focus on applying data science and machine learning techniques to assess the financial health of Spanish enterprises.
While on this new team, Kere was able to analyze large datasets containing financial information and design statistical models in order to understand the qualities that make companies in Spain more likely to default on loans issued by CaixaBank. “The results of the models I created will be used for further iteration in a genetic program that the team is currently building. While the machine learning part of the project was not something I had experience in, I was able to utilize knowledge from my coursework in math and the experience I’ve gotten from past financial internships. I also learned so much from my supervisor and he really inspired me to keep exploring the data science field,” Kere says of her experience.
Working in a foreign country really takes you out of your comfort zone and you end up learning a lot about yourself and the people you interact with in your host country. The MISTI-Spain program allowed me to have that experience and I know that I will always carry this experience with me.
However, outside of work, Kere initially struggled. She recalls those initial weeks of homesickness, “Because I did the MISTI-Spain program from January to May, there weren’t any other MISTI interns there at that time which meant it was very lonely in the beginning since I didn’t have that safety blanket of other MIT students. However, I think this was the best thing that could have happened because it forced me to put myself out there and meet other Spanish natives who have become some of my good friends today. So my advice would be to do the same, because that’s the best way to learn about and experience the country you’re in.”
Now that she has returned to the US, Kere looks forward to seeing how she can apply the data science techniques she learned to other problems and fields of interest and hopes to return to Spain in the future.