My internship experience in a tech startup in Barcelona
Salut tout le monde!
My name is Solène. I worked at Hibox at their HQ in Barcelona. Hibox is a startup that built a digital solution for business communication. This internship was part of my second year of the bachelor in Business and Administration I am undertaking at the ECE INSEEC School in Bordeaux, France.
The main objectives of this 3-month internship were to work in a different cultural environment in a different language, to discover another way of working and use theoretical knowledge in a professional environment. After making a spontaneous application and applying to internship offers on a special website, I applied to an offer from Hibox on angellist.co. It is a website which companies (mostly startups) publish offers for interns. I already had an internship opportunity in New York in the company Change The Present, but the missions at Hibox seemed more interesting and I thought I would learn a lot more by working for this company. In fact, Hibox gave me a lot of real responsibility from day one.
Working at Hibox:
I had an amazing and very enriching experience. At Hibox, I was a business development intern, my role was mostly to help attract new clients especially in France since I’m French. Hibox is a really international company. In the office in Barcelona, only one of us was actually from Spain, we were all from different countries all over the globe (France, USA, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Singapore…).
Inside the Hibox team, roles are flexible and everyone has to wear a lot of hats. Basically, on one side there are the developers who do the coding and on the other side the business and sales department and the design team making sure Hibox looks good 🙂 . Most of the interns work in business development and marketing. But, there are some tasks (like translations) that we all do because we need the language skills of everybody.
The atmosphere at work is really friendly. Every employee is very connected to each other since we are all using the platform we sell, which also helps to understand what is good and how it can be improved. Despite the kilometers between the team in Barcelona and the team in South America, we are able to discuss all together and help each other out when needed.
What is it like to work in a startup?
There are not a lot of differences between the French business culture and the Spanish one. Working in a startup is very different, it is more than just a job, there is a real unique atmosphere. Everything works faster, everybody needs to be up-to-date with the new tools, the latest business trends… Not a single day looks like the day before, we all need to adapt quickly.
In a startup, there is a lot more freedom in our tasks, there are no strict barriers between the different roles and work is not strictly supervised. The relationships between employees and superiors are much more elaborate and friendly which makes us more excited to come into work everyday.
Working and living in Barcelona:
In Spain, people are more relaxed even at work. This is the biggest difference I noticed between France and Spain. In fact, Spanish people rightly believe that it is better to work directly face to face because it creates a more personal relationship (which makes it easier to understand the needs of the customers). A good meeting in Spain is a meeting with good relationships between the people, the conversations are as important as official documents. Between us in the office, it was very friendly. We talked about our personal lives and what we did during the week-ends. There is also a ping-pong table in the office, so if we wanted to relax a little bit at the end of the day, we would do tournaments! Compared with my previous experiences in French companies, this was definitely different. Even if the relationships were very good, it was a lot more formal in France.
Barcelona doesn’t steal its reputation! It’s an awesome city to live in. There is everything for any kind of activities you like; if you enjoy going out for a beer with friends, there are plenty of cool and unusual places like a nearly 200 year old bar (the Marsella, where Picasso and Hemmingway had a drink), rooftop parties, awesome touristic must-see places like Sagrada Familia… If you like the outdoors, there are beautiful places around Barcelona to go hiking, climbing, biking, checking out cool local beaches… all with amazing Mediterranean weather! People here are really welcoming and they can speak English pretty easily. For housing, it’s quite easy to find a place but you have to be very quick, rooms don’t stay available for more than a couple days.
If you have an opportunity to work or study in Barcelona, go for it! It’s an amazing experience, Barcelona is a great place to meet new people from everywhere in the world. Hibox is an awesome place to work too, it’s a very friendly team where I was able to learn a lot.
Voilà! I hope this article helped you learn more about working in a startup in Barcelona is really like 🙂