Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Santander: First Impressions

After a week of exploring Madrid and finding an apartment, I began work at Banco Santander on Monday. Four first impressions:

1. This place is ridiculous. Santander built its own corporate campus just outside of Madrid. I feel like I'm working in some futuristic corporatist utopia.

2. Everything is in Spanish. My colleagues were under the impression when I arrived that I didn't speak Spanish, and when they found out I could, they decided to talk to me as if I were a Spaniard. This was probably too much for me the first day and I left with an exhausted brain and a worry that I had missed some important information. Today was better and I sat through a 20 minute rapid-fire briefing on Bloomberg data sets with very high level of comprehension (a fact that I only slowly realized as it was happening).

3. This is a big kid job. Everyone is super nice, but no one is holding my hand. My work doesn't consist of just searching Google or copying and pasting stuff into Word documents. I actually need to use stuff I learned in Econ classes. I need to take home material and become an expert on Chilean fiscal policy. I might succeed, but there's definitely room for failure.

4. This is what I want to do. After four months of uncertainty as to what I'd be doing, I found myself in Santander's Servicio de Estudios y Public Policy, which does in-house economic and political analysis for bank decision-makers. My first week I'm helping to write briefs. This was the kind of stuff that I enjoyed so much at SAIS and dreamed about doing professionally. This place exhausts me. It scares me. Most of all, it excites me, and it's only my second day.