Wow, where has the time gone? It feels as if I just got off the plane yesterday. I will always remember the pure excitement I felt when I landed in Madrid for the first time. I was ready to embrace Spanish culture head on and I have done just that. I have eaten pretty much every type of food here in Madrid, learned how to dance the cultural Flamenco dance, experienced several different cities across Spain and enjoyed every second of it. Along with all of these, I have also learned about the professional expectations and what makes a successful employee here in Spain through my 8 week internship.
Over the course of the past two months, I have been assigned a number of tasks and have had to adjust to the working culture here in Spain. Expectations for an employee are different in Spain. My experience with the work culture here in Spain versus the work culture back in the United States are very different. In the United States, most people either work 8am-5pm or 9am-6pm with a one hour lunch break. At my previous internship last summer, I was required to start my work day at 8am and I was allowed to leave at 5pm; in addition, I was given a one hour lunch break and two 15 minute breaks. However, my experience with the work schedule this summer has been very different from that of my previous internship. In Spain, it is very common for people to work from 10am-7pm. Instead of a strictly monitored one hour lunch break, people tend to have the ability to take as long as they please for lunch as well as many coffee breaks throughout the day. In addition, the start and end times are not strictly monitored either. It is completely normal to arrive late or leave early–the Spanish people are more focused on getting things done at their own pace with little stress.
My work experience has definitely leaned towards the relaxed style of work. Because I work at a startup with a staff of only 5 employees, my schedule is very flexible. For my first month of work, my schedule was 10am-7pm. However, I was permitted to arrive and leave as I please as long as I complete the amount of work I had for that day. I think this has made me more productive because it is low stress and I tend to work more efficiently early in the morning which allows me to leave early on most days. Now that we have entered the month of July, my schedule has shifted to 8am-3pm due to the extremely high temperatures.
Essentially, employers believe in allowing there employees to be independent. They have a loosely structured schedule and are given tasks for which they can do at their own pace. From my experience, I believe that a successful employee is one who finishes their tasks effectively and efficiently. Although there is usually no due date or time table for when I receive an assignment, I find that the quicker I complete it the better. In the US, it’s very common to get a due date and stricter parameter that force you to work quickly whereas in Spain it is more autonomous.
In other news, this past weekend I travelled to Pamplona in order to watch the running of the bulls. It was a tremendous experience! The entire city simply turned into a giant festival that never stopped. Everyone was dressed in white and red celebrating San Fermin and anxiously waiting the running of the bulls. It was an experience like no other. I would say that it was a combination of Carnival in Brazil and Mardi Gras but with an added element of danger. I am definitely going to return one day and I hope to actually run with the bulls one day.
Sadly, this is my last blog post that I will write from Spain. In 4 days, I will step foot on American soil and return home. Although I am excited to see my family and go home, I certainly will miss Spain and all of the great people that I have come to know.