Wow! What an amazing experience! The city of Madrid, Cats Hostels, my host family, and all my new friends! Reflecting on this experience will take me back and visit so many fond memories. The primary focus of this paper will be on the internship; I will include everything that I deem necessary for a person to know before going abroad to work at Cats Hostels and how we can improve this internship. The interning experience was great, especially if it’s your first time having an office job. Cats is a great place to put your foot in the door, make great connections, and really get the most out of your time in Madrid. However, there is room for improvement where Cats can get more out of their interns.
When I walked in the first day they had one task for me to take over. A simple inventory tracker was all they needed. I completed that task in under a week. I then got assigned another meaningful project writing the descriptions of jobs for a new hostel opening in Lisbon. I worked on that task alone and finished within a few days. That is two weeks where I had a really good work. The next two weeks were not too boring, I had various tasks that I felt had a meaningful impact on the organization. The last two weeks were a struggle to keep my attention. I always enjoyed coming into the office – but some days felt much longer than the others. I think there is a simple solution to keeping productivity and attention of the intern at an all-time high the entire summer: Have four or five large projects that need to be done by the end of the summer.
There is a huge benefit on both sides of the ball if the intern and Cats know what to expect from the first day. I would have been more driven and focused on a daily basis. There were some days on the last few weeks where I would come into the office having no idea what was going to be on my agenda. Like I said earlier, I was always excited to come into the office due to the staff I was working with, however there certainly were a few days of ambiguity. The pace of work is also to blame for the lack of work. The Spaniards pace of work is slow. They take a day or maybe two to finish a project that an American student could finish in a few hours. They expect their work to take longer than usual; that contributes to the lack of work they give. That is not to be taken as an insult, Americans are programmed from a young age to work their tails off, Spainards know how to live life with little stress. Words of the wise to future interns: enjoy every moment! Really, at Cats hostels they have so many opportunities to do whatever you want. If you are a social person you have hundreds of people coming in and out every week that you can talk to, have food with, and share stories with. If you are an introvert then you can stay in the office and keep to small talk with your coworkers. The Cats office is extremely nice and upbeat.
The first day do not panic or stress. There are five workers that have your back and want you to flourish. The dress code is nonexistent. As long as you have clothes on your back, you will not hear a complaint. I wore a long sleeve collared shirt and pants for the first four weeks or so. However, as the weather gets hotter my coworkers began to ask why I still wear my collared shirts with pants. At that moment I knew I was able to relax a little more and wear nicer shorts and a nice shirt. I was greeted with smiles and compliments- trust me, you don’t have to dress to the nines every day! The ladies love to chat in the office. My biggest regret is being shy in the office. Chiming in on a conversation here and there goes a long way, asking about their dogs and social life can also get your coworkers to open up.
Through my conversations with my fellow EUSA students I have gathered that Cats is probably one of the more relaxed places to work. The greatest strength from this internship is certainly the networking you gain from being in a hostel and working with the heads of marketing, accounting, administration, reception and the general manager. Each person is filled with information and brilliant in their own field. Although there are only five people in the office, there are hundreds of people coming in and out of the hostel each week. Talk to the guests!! I have met so many different people from all walks of life through simply asking their name and striking up a conversation. A law student at NYU, an entrepreneur from Brazil, a professional horseback rider from Germany, and many more! The office is small but the opportunities are endless; I partook in inventory management, marketing, reception, and even was used as a model for a day!
The biggest concern with the internship was the downtime I had. I know I addressed it earlier in the paper but that was definitely the biggest and really only issue I had with working at Cats. I know I am only a second year college kid but I think I was ready for a little more responsibility and work. I would sit there and wonder when the next task/project would be assigned. The Spanish culture is mañana… mañana… mañana. Which means tomorrow, and they keep putting things off until they feel like they really need to be addressed. It was not a matter of not asking, but rather them simply not having anything for me to do.
Also P.S. to the new intern: you get to stay to stay for free at all Cats hostels while working there. For instance, Cats has a hostel in Porto so while I was visiting that beautiful city I was able to stay two nights for free! Take advantage of that and every opportunity you get from Cats! It’s an awesome place to work and you’ll love your time there!