So far, my first week in Madrid has been a total whirlwind. There’s just so much color and beauty surrounding me at all times. I’m particularly surprised by how green the city is, and how easy it is to escape into nature.
Now, to get to business (literally). As of right now, I have a tentative internship at ILP Abogados. It’s a very large law firm based in Madrid that specializes in business law, namely: litigation, regulation, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, tax law, and so much more. Frankly, the whole firm seems enormous, however, there are about 25 people in the office in Madrid.
My department in the law firm is called VICe ILP, which houses about 5 or 6 people at the moment within the larger firm. VICe ILP is a division of ILP corporate, which designs companies’ strategic and financial operations to maximize profit and returns. Their specialty is in helping entrepreneurs launch startups and working with existing startups to get them off the ground. More specifically, they assist in the development and growth of these firms, along with smoothing the investment pathway for them. Each year, they help launch over 300 startup companies in various sectors and industries. My role in particular will be centered around assisting with economic projects, financing, investor consultancy, legal-economic duties, and more. My work will depend a lot on the types of projects they have going on and which companies they are currently working with, and my involvement in the legal aspects of things will depend on my prowess and mastery of Spanish legal jargon (things will certainly get… interesting).
From what I can tell so far, there are numerous things that are necessary to succeed in this industry. First, I have to be a quick and efficient learner. As this is a field that is constantly growing and evolving, new materials and regulations pop up all the time. Moreover, each company that they work with (and from what I can gather, it will be an estimated 25 companies a month, give or take) will not only be in a different field with different components to their operations and business vision, but also, there will be different rules and regulations to follow for each company based on their industry and scope/locations of business. Also, more companies than ever are moving to a digital business model, which involves a whole new set of regulations and knowledge that I will have to master rather quickly.
Another skill that is necessary is time management. Given the high volume of projects and firms, I will certainly have a large workload to balance. This is not even taking into account the fact that every task will take me longer than the average Spanish worker, as I will still be translating every document and email in my head as I read them, slowing my work pace considerably. Furthermore, there will likely be tons of meetings to prepare for and participate in. Therefore, it will be absolutely crucial that I find a way to balance all of these components of my work.
Yet another skill which would be crucial for my work will be research. Besides learning things quickly, I have to be able to research subjects deeply and holistically to present the best work to my superiors. While I am familiar with the best ways to research information, particularly legal research, in the United States, I am much less familiar with the methods and resources to use in Spain. I anticipate a steep learning curve in this area.
A competency that I will need that is specific to Spain and its culture is definitely communication. Spain has a very unique communication style in comparison to the US. Preparation and presentations are less valued here than in the US. Instead, intuition and quick thinking are given more praise and attention. It’s not about being the most prepared, but instead having the most original and innovative ideas given a baseline set of material and information.
Another part of communication that I must master in Spain is the art of interruption. While back home in the US, it is customary to wait for the other person to finish their thought before adding your own in the conversation, Spanish people interrupt one another and talk over each other all the time, even in professional situations. This, I think, will be the toughest challenge when it comes to developing cultural competencies in Spain. I am too used to the polite conversational hand-off between people, and I will have to gain the courage to pluck up and interrupt someone to have my thoughts heard. Given that I am just an intern and I am still learning Spanish, I anticipate that this will be a particularly difficult challenge for me.