EUSA Internships

Lunchtime Chats in Madrid

Monday, November 24th, 2008

horse-statue.jpgToday, my coworker Elena asked what kind of image Americans have of Spain. “Do they consider it a lesser developed country and lump it with other Spanish-speaking countries?” she said. Personally, I have always lumped Spain with countries like France and Germany. It is hard to imagine that this democratic country was ruled under the Franco dictatorship only 30+ years ago! Spain has emerged from restricting women from opening their own bank account without a husband’s cosign just 30 years ago to becoming the world’s third nation to legalize gay marriage. Developing at a fast rate, Spain takes much pride in the things it does well. The metro system, for example, is extremely efficient, extensive, and well maintained. I saw a poster showing the Statue of Liberty stooping down, peering curiously into a metro entrance. The catchy phrase said, “The Metro the world wishes they had– is right here in Madrid.”

We always have many interesting discussions at my workplace. I get to enjoy a long lunch with my coworkers in the middle of the day, where I have become familiar with everything from Spanish slang to politics to family life. Through many entertaining conversations, I have learned endless Spanish colloquial phrases and words. Harmless words like “monkey” “horse” and “chocolate” can translate to refer to drugs! As far as politics go, Obama is welcomed with great enthusiasm. Spaniards are hopeful that his presidency will help secure a more solid friendship between our nations. My coworkers enjoy talking about American politics; it sometimes surprises me how well informed they are about the US.

spanish-flag.jpgAlso during our lunch, my coworkers love when I recount the tales of my home-stay experience with my “señora”. I am currently living with an older woman, single and retired. She is very kind, and happily cooks my meals and does my laundry. In exchange, I live by the interesting rules of the house. No bare feet on the floor, showers no longer than exactly 10 minutes (complimentary reminders given), and I must never share her hand towel. It seems notions of hygiene are different here. It is also bad form to relax with one’s feet on the furniture, as living rooms tend to be much more formal here. I must also make my bed every day and keep my room tidy, since here it is customary to leave doors to rooms open. My coworkers have explained to me that these tendencies are more specific to her Spanish generation, and that the younger generation lives with a more relaxed style.

Though my señora is from an older generation, she (like every other Madrileño) loves to go out at night! Regular bedtime for her is around 2 or 3 am. I am long asleep by then, as I have to wake up early most mornings. In Madrid, going out is a highlight of the culture. The Spanish do not often invite their friends over to their home, because the home serves more for family and relaxation. To meet up with friends or a date, my señora always goes out for tapas (appetizers with drinks) or for a coffee and a pastry, or to the movies, or even to a dance club (for people her own age, she informs me).

I love soaking up the culture around me, and comparing it to the US. I enjoy many things here, like the tendency of staying up so late and sleeping in, and the abundance of small neighborhood shops serving everything you could need. However, I dislike how so many stores inconveniently close from 2-5pm for the siesta, or how service is continuously slow in restaurants. I think if we could somehow fuse the customs of our nations together, I would have the perfect place to live.

Microcredit in Madrid

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

blogger3.jpg¡Hola, buenos días! My name is Martha, but here in España I am better known as “Marta” or even “Martita.” I am a junior in the Foster School of Business, focusing on Finance and CISB. I chose International Business because of my passion for traveling and learning about other cultures, and this opportunity with EUSA has been opening so many doors for me to explore career options. This internship introduced me to microcredit, which thus has become my newfound passion in life.

The concept of microcredit (giving small loans for business to those unable to access such credit) began in Bangladesh, but now has been spreading and adapting to countries all around the world. Here in Madrid, I work for a non-profit organization called MITA, which is a center for entrepreneurial development especially for immigrants and women. Spain has a huge population of immigrants, many of which bring diverse ideas and products with business potential. Understandably, it is quite difficult for a low-income immigrant to obtain a €25,000 loan and successfully open a business with limited analysis of the Spanish market, business laws and regulations, and limited experience with creating a business plan. Clients come to MITA for training, advising, and assistance in securing a special low-interest loan from one of several banks in Madrid that offer microcredit services.

Only a handful of dedicated workers make up the organization of MITA, curiously, all women. It is a fun atmosphere to work in, light-hearted and casual. There is always plenty of work to do; this small organization is steady with clients. My colleagues, Leticia and Elena, have each about 10-15 ongoing projects with their entrepreneurs-in-training. Currently, most of my work involves researching and compiling reports about market sectors to help determine if a certain type of business would be viable here in Madrid. I find market studies from internet databases, news articles, magazines, and browse through information in past business plans. Most of the business ideas (more…)

Marketing Internship Placement with Academy Music Group, London

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

p1000690.JPGFor this summer, I am doing work experience (aka an internship) at Academy Music Group (AMG), owner and operator of over a dozen live performance venues all over the United Kingdom. Three of our venues are in London: Carling Academies Brixton and Islington, and the Shepherds Bush Empire. I was fortunate to see Death Cab For Cutie in July at our Brixton venue, then The Dandy Warhols the week after at the Empire. Before each show, I toured the venue with the resident venue manager and chatted about their experiences working at the venue. Many of our managers have been at their respective sites for nearly ten years or more! The majority of my work is not on-site, rather, I operate out of the AMG headquarters above the Brixton venue.

p1010399.JPGOur marketing department is comprised of myself, the marketing and PR intern; Justine and Lauren, the assistants; and Louise, the marketing manager.  Technically, I report directly to Justine, but both Lauren and Lou are very participative in my work experience. Daily tasks which I have taken on over time include: searching for relevant press in regional and national publications, maintaining the digital and hard press archives, locating artist press contacts, and uploading show details on venue websites’ gig listings.  Some unique projects I conducted were the research for marketing opportunities and demographic points-of-contact in the Liverpool area for festival outreach and the design of interactive spreadsheets for internal purposes. Learning about the London music scene has been amazing as well! I’m fairly familiar with how my industry works, but there’s always something new to learn when you see how other companies in completely different cultures and geographic areas strive for the same goals and outcomes.

Farmer’s Markets, London Field Research

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

This weekend is Bank Holiday, which is sort of like Labour Day, and means that we all have a four-day weekend, hooray!

wooten1.jpgOne of my Seattle friends was in town this week, so Saturday we took her to Borough Market, a huge farmer’s market by the Thames. It’s off of Borough High Street and is extremely popular for grocery shopping. They have nearly every produce you could imagine, fresh fruits and veggies, smoothies, bakeries, fish vendors, tea, fish and chips, turkish delights, falafel, beer, wine, BBQ, it goes on for quite a while. Between the three of us, we ate BBQ, fish and chips, and more BBQ!

wooten2.jpgWe stopped into a boulangerie and shared an amazing strawberry tart. The custard was the texture of whipped cream and melted in your mouth, while the strawberries were sweet, and the buttery crust just the right amount of flaky. We also found (we think) the world’s largest pyramid of brownies!

Camden Market was very fun today! Once you get past the touristy part of Camden High Street, you get into the area by the canal which has amazing food and much more unique, culturally diverse shopping. I got Bombay potato and a strawberry smoothie, while Pavel got both Jamaican jerk chicken and goat curry. We tried to find the vendor that serves huge coconuts from which you drink the water, but they were gone for a carnival outside of Camden! I’ve vowed to take us back there to get our coconuts and our photo opp!

Scotland: Edinburgh, The Highlands, and, surprise! Clean air!

Monday, August 18th, 2008

p1000858.JPGThis last weekend, a fellow American traveler and I took a three-day excursion to the green lands of Scotland. Scotland reminded me of Seattle, with the clean, crisp air and greenery; however, Seattle is a very dark forest, while Scotland is the brightest emerald. The Highlands have rolling hills and textured mountains, which are not green because of trees, but the grass and moss that cover nearly every inch. Loch Ness is a lake; that’s all I have to say about that. All lochs (or lakes) are gorgeous in The Highlands, but to be honest, they all look the same to the not-so-Scottish eye. No Nessie, sorry guys! Scottish Highland cows are fascinating creatures: they look like yaks, but they p1000878.JPGhave the brightest orange hair which flows down their face and covers most of their vision! This picture was of one that spent most of its time at a rest stop in The Highlands examining tourists and posing for photographs.

The cities, particularly Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburrow, not Edinburg), have buildings that are hundreds of years old, p1000839.JPGmade of sturdy stone, and still standing with McDonalds, Boots, and other modernp1000857.JPG shops inside. Edinburgh began as a fort in the 7th century and blossomed into a metropolis; having been around for so long, the part of the city considered “new” is actually 200 years old. We toured Edinburgh on a bus for two short hours, then ventured around on our own and visited Edinburgh Castle, which is smack in the middle of the city on top of a plug of volcanic rock. We also trekked the Royal Mile, down which the royal family moved back and forth from their two homes. We also spent some time on Princes Street at the National Galleries of Scotland and the Royal Academy’s Impressionism Exhibition. We had chai and a latte at the Starbucks on Princes Street, where from thep1000969.JPG second story you got an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle. It was so strange to be from Seattle, in a Starbucks in Scotland, and to see an amazing castle high up on rock out the window!

In short, Scotland is just absolutely amazing.

Living in London (AKA cultural learnings for make benefit glorious University of Washington)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Outside the office, I’ve found the UK a very hospitable place for Americans. Obviously, there are a lot of values that the US and the UK share. Compared to any other country except Canada, the language barrier between Americans and Brits is minimal.

Many of the differences are “procedural”, such as driving on the left side of the road. Since most of the world drives on the right, the Brits have generously painted “Look Left” and “Look Right” at intersections to help you check for oncoming traffic.

Then there are supermarkets. Most people in London (like people in New York) have to shop for groceries with baskets instead of shopping carts purely for space reasons. This is fine for me since my fridge only holds so much anyway.

One of the few differences is that supermarkets generally make you bag your own groceries. This should theoretically save labor costs, but really doesn’t since the cashier can check out your purchases twice as fast as you can bag them, so he or she just winds up sitting there watching you bag (though at some chains, cashiers will pitch in at the end voluntarily).

Like New York City, London has a very developed mass transit system. Its most prominent feature is the double decker buses (alongside smaller, normal buses) that cruise the streets. Buses with two sections joined by an accordion segment are ubiquitous in the Seattle area, but most Londoners hate them, preferring double deckers. When “bendy buses” were introduced, numerous complaints were made about the amount of road space these buses took up as well as the allegedly higher risk of crashes due to the sheer length of them. Among newly elected London mayor Boris Johnson’s campaign promises was a pledge to get rid of the bendy buses by 2015. This all seems funny to me since in Seattle the accordion buses are not really very controversial at all since double deckers would be unthinkable—Seattle just isn’t built to accommodate such tall vehicles in the places they would need to go. Every city has its own needs, I guess.

Beneath the city streets, of course, lies the London Underground, or “Tube”. During rush hour, (more…)

London and Seattle are very different places

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

London and Seattle are very different places, but there’s one thing that always reminds me of home here: the weather, in both good and bad ways. Despite the occasional thunderstorm, I prefer breezy, cool summers to hot, muggy ones.

For the summer, I’m working at an accounting (they call it “accountancy” here)/consulting firm called Fitzgerald & Law. F&L is in a downtown London neighborhood called Holborn; most of their clients (about 70%) are American midsize and small companies, many of them Silicon Valley tech firms that have opened UK divisions. F&L offers these companies a wide variety of services ranging from preparing tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs (somewhat analogous to our infamous IRS) to auditing company books to providing a full financial outsourcing solution. This means F&L essentially acts as the accounting department for the client’s UK branch, and can really save money for operations that aren’t big enough to have their own in-house accountants.

A day at F&L is different for everyone. In theory, the workday lasts from 9 until 5:30. Many partners and managers may start the day earlier; today I came into the office to hear that my boss was on his fifth or sixth cup of coffee—and that was the one day I showed up earliest. On the other hand, another manager in our office is a new mother so she often arrives late and leaves early, skipping her lunch break to make up the time. In general, there’s a solid respect for the principle of “you gotta do what you gotta do” when it comes to arriving and leaving as long as you get your work done.

As for myself, I usually get up around 7:15-7:30 (which I’ll probably never get completely used to as I’m not at all a morning person) and leave for work around 8:30-8:40. I take the Underground to Holborn, which is just a couple stops away. The whole commute takes about 20 minutes, with the actual tube ride being only about 5 minutes long. Most of my time is spent inside the stations getting from the platform to the surface or vice versa.

This time of day, the Tube is packed. To me, this simple annoying fact actually demonstrates the resolve of the British people. (more…)