International Experience: Non-profit v. For-profit
In working for a small nonprofit company, I was able to meet the founder and CEO of Fundación Aladina, Paco Arango. He is a very busy man, but would stop in the office every once in awhile for either a quick meeting or update. It was usually before the organization would have an event and the team would convene to talk logistics about the event. At first, it was hard for me to keep up during those meeting because everyone was speaking Spanish really fast. However, by the second mini meeting Paco had stopped and caught me up in English as to what was going on. Although I was able to understand most of the meeting, it was nice for him to make sure I understood. His reiterating the meeting in English affimed that I was improving on my Spanish speaking skills.
I was also able to sit in on their larger monthly meeting one afternoon. Surprisingly to me the meeting was through a working lunch. Through research, and the class we had taken before the trip, in Spain meetings do not usually happen over lunch because lunch is a social activity. Many times my entire office would go eat together for at least an hour and just take a break from the long day. I was also lucky to be able to get the food for the lunch with one of my co-workers Sara. This was a great way for me to learn more about her and get to know what she does at the organization. It was nice because she had only been there for about 4 months, so we were in the same boat when it came to adjusting to a new work environment.
The meeting was also located at Paco’s loft which had a long table in it specifically for business meeting. The topic of this meeting was, the new movie and its release across Spain. Fundación Aladina had been working hard on the movie premiere because all of the funds raised from the movie would go to the ‘Aladinos’, the children they assisted, so they could attend a summer camp specifically for kids with cancer. It was very interesting to see the differences and similarities of meetings in Spain versus the United States. Since the organization is so small, all employees except for Paco had a mini meeting beforehand to make sure they all knew how each of their roles would play into the premiere. When we got into the meeting Paco was doing most of the talking, my boss was constantly interrupted by him while she was explaining the plan. This was different than in the United States because usually the presentation would finish and then questions would be asked. Another interesting thing is that the movie release and premiere was a team effort but the discussion at the table was only between three major people, Paco, my boss, and a coordinator. I thought this was interesting because the rest of the team would not speak unless they were spoken to, or asked a question directly.
Also, the dress code of the meeting was very casual everyone was in jeans and a shirt either blouse of a t-shirt. In the United States people dress up in business professional clothes for meetings, but I did not know if this meeting was a special case because they are a non-profit. Paco also made all the final decisions. Seeing that he is a head of the company he took the information given to him and either told people to work on certain things or to change that part of the proposal completely. What I learned from the meeting is, like in the United States, always be prepared. I was not expecting to speak at the meeting but I did and was able to contribute to the conversation. It may be obvious but, do your best to follow the conversation. In the meeting people started talking at the same time and would interrupt each other, and I never knew if I could add to the meeting. Overall the meeting was casual, fun, and I was even able to speak a little on how the website marketing should work!