Since this internship is my first one ever, this is also my first experience really working in an office setting. In the past, I have had a few jobs where I interacted with office staff and had to carry out administrative tasks, but other than that my only ideas of office life are from movies and one of my favorite shows, “The Office.”
SociosInversores is a very successful startup firm as the first equity-based crowdfunding platform in the world. However, now SociosInversores is much more than just that. SEGOFINANCE is the umbrella that encompasses all forms of startup investment with the branches of SociosInversores, Upcelera, Emprestamo, and Prestamy. Hearing this, you probably think that this company must be huge, and I did, too, but surprisingly, my company only has about 20 employees total. Therefore, I’m not only experiencing Spanish work culture, but I also get to see what it’s like working in a small office.
All Spanish businesses usually run on the same schedule: start at 9, 1/2 hour break at 11 or 11:30, hour lunch at 2 or 3, and end work at 6. This is the same at SociosInversores, except on Friday’s we get off at 3 as well! I had no idea what the dress code was going to be before leaving, so naturally I packed a good mix of professional and business casual clothes. Well, honestly I really only needed one professional outfit for my interview because everyone just wears their everyday casual clothes! The first few weeks of work I was definitely the most professionally dressed person in the office because I just didn’t feel right wearing jeans to work, but now I’ve slowly let myself dress a bit more casually.
On my first day, I was expecting to greet everyone with a handshake due to the professional setting. However, everyone greeted me with two cheek kisses and was very happy to meet me. I thought this was a little strange at first, but this is typical when you meet someone for the first time in Spain. I also think it’s because it wasn’t just a meeting, but a welcome, because when clients come into the office for a meeting, they use handshakes.
I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, but everyone in the company welcomed me right away and would always check-up on me my first few days to see how I was doing. However, I’m no exception to this friendliness. In my time here we have had two new employees join us, and both of them have had seamless transitions as well. I think one of the reasons this is is because of the more casual professional atmosphere. When interacting with my co-workers, it doesn’t feel like there is any barrier up between us in terms of professionalism. Everyone seems to know each other very well on a personal level, not just on the surface.
One of the reasons the atmosphere of my office is so uplifting is because my co-workers aren’t simply that, they are amigos and like a family. When I first started, I thought I could tell who was close friends with who in the office, but as time has passed I’ve noticed that really everyone is on good terms with one another.
It’s apparent that everyone here cares for one another as well. There is always a reason to have mini celebrations during second breakfast here in the office. Everyone gathers around the big table, which is laid out with so many pastries and juices, and we just hang out, chat, and relax altogether. I can’t count how many of these we’ve had. Just this past Tuesday, we had la torta de chocolate (AMAZING chocolate cake) to celebrate a co-worker who is no longer able to come into the office. Then on Wednesday it was Estefania’s birthday (my co-workers call me Esteffi to avoid confusion:), and Friday the same because the co-worker who was leaving wanted to treat everyone and thank them again.
In Spain we take advantage of our breaks to chat with one another and enjoy our time. No one eats through lunch or rushes in order to get back to work sooner. It seems to me that they know how to have a good balance. We are a successful company, but it doesn’t seem that anyone is super stressed out all the time or is very pressed to make deadlines.
Each employee has their own cubicle, but that doesn’t hinder the opportunity for anyone to interact with one another. People are constantly collaborating, having meetings with one another, or helping each other with work tasks. We even have a nice big couch to use for meetings, as well as a rooftop terrace that some co-workers use to talk on the phone with clients. Since I’m working on an independent project, I don’t usually do much collaborating with my co-workers. However, when I do need someone’s help or a question answered, they are so willing to help me and make sure I understand.
I have only had pleasant experiences here at SociosInversores. One of my co-workers even told me that they are so happy with me here, and I feel the same. I’m not only gaining skills and growing personally through this international work experience, but also friends and colleagues to last me a lifetime.