Stephen gives us the scoop on his Business Operations and Development internship with Toddl.co in Barcelona. Toddl.co is an app that helps parents discover and book activities for their kids. Find out more about his experience and the advice he gives for future interns.
Hello and welcome to the 7th installment of my Barcelona blogs. Things are finally heating up as we get closer to May, and I am not ready for this to end.
Caption: The people of Barcelona are certainly ready for the summer sun to return.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and if you think about it, one thing ending is really the beginning of something new. That being said, I have no time to think about counting the days left because there’s still so much to do! Sadly, I won’t make it to Madrid to see Francisco Goya’s Guernica this semester, so a return visit to this beautiful country is inevitable at this point—bittersweet, if you will.
Caption: My roommate took this for me in our first few days in Barcelona. How the time has flown.
As we wind down to the end of the program, one of the things I’ll miss is my global internship with Toddl.co. As a Business Operations & Development Intern, I was tasked with researching the contact details of childcare companies to expand the Toddl.co online marketplace and creating listings for the camps and activities that would appear on the app. For a while, I felt like a cog in the machine doing this work, but my site supervisor helped me realize the importance behind what I was doing in conversations we had. She showed me the important metrics that need to be monitored to keep a startup going: the key performance indicators (KPIs), and how without the listings I was making the business would stall. I learned the key to running a successful business is never stopping the forward progress. There may be days when you could do nothing, but if you still do something to move your business forward it will be better in the long run. I’m proud to have helped such motivated business owners as they try to disrupt and modernize the childcare industry.
At Toddl, my average week consisted of one 4-hour day and two 8-hour days, making up the 20 hours required per week for the CAPA internship program. On Monday or Thursday, I would leave class around 3 in the afternoon, grab a quick lunch and settle down somewhere to get to work. Some of my favorite cafes I worked in were the Godot Cafe in the Gracia neighborhood and Bristol Cafe, which was down the street from my first apartment in Eixample. Often, I would get something to make at home from Mercadona and work while my lunch was in the oven to have more time in the evening.
Caption: A surprisingly tasty snack from La Boqueria was the sea urchin. It looked scary, but I had to try it while I had the opportunity.
In a typical 4-hour time block I’d get 2-10 listings done, depending on how much digging I had to do to get all the information needed to put it up on the app. This is exactly the point of Toddl: so many companies’ information is scattered and inconsistent, and busy parents don’t have time to do that digging around. It’s better that we did the digging and created a streamlined process for the parents to choose the right camp or activity for their children, making it hassle-free.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I didn’t have class, so I’d get started around 8-9 am, work 4 hours, take an hour and a half for lunch, and then finish up between 5 and 6 pm. These days, I definitely tried to get out of the apartment to get work done, although sometimes I would use the last half hour of my lunch to unwind by shooting around at the court a couple minutes away from my second apartment (disclaimer for new readers: it is incredibly unlikely that you will be moved during your program, there was unexpected construction work in my first building, so CAPA had to move us a to a new apartment).
Caption: Basketball court near CCCB—there’s always people playing here.
For anyone considering a global internship with CAPA, I would recommend it. Wherever you end up getting placed, you will stretch yourself in ways that you wouldn’t have expected. My placement at Toddl didn’t have much to do with any of the 3 fields I listed in my application, but I’m so grateful where I ended up. Now, I feel much more prepared to put in the hard work necessary to establish myself, and also to communicate my hopes and expectations with my supervisors. A few of my friends in different internships expressed the same sentiment: they had to speak up for themselves to get the experience they were looking for, while maximizing their benefits to their placement company.
Advice for Future Interns
I’ll try to keep these brief.
Generally speaking, I would say to tough it out if you don’t necessarily like your internship to begin with. There’s a decent chance you’ll just take a few weeks to adjust to the culture and type of work you’re doing, and even if you hate it the whole time, that’s a good experience to learn that you may not want to work in that field/position.
If you’re remote, set working hours and adhere strictly to them. You can still get up once or twice an hour to get the blood circulating, but you don’t want to break your concentration after getting into a flow and leak into your time to go out and experience Barcelona. That also means not going on your phone/social media while you’re working.
Separate your working area from where you relax. You don’t want to be trying to enjoy yourself and be subliminally reminded of working because then you won’t fully relax, which will eventually lead to burnout.
Caption: This was where I worked in my apartment. It was in the living room, but we typically sat in the dining room/kitchen area when we hung out.
Lastly, I’ve heard that Toddl.co will be taking in some new CAPA students for the summer program, and hopefully into the future, so I have a couple tips specific to that internship.
Ask lots of questions. Steph and Lorin have so much incredible experience and their answers were always honest and insightful. It’s important to stay on task in meetings because they’re so busy, but when you get the opportunity, make sure to pick their brains about anything you might want to know about business.
When you’re creating listings, write all the information out on paper or a doc before you start putting it in the database. This way you can see what information is missing and let them know so they can ask for clarification.
Again, a massive thank you to Toddl.co and CAPA for a rewarding global internship. It was a pleasure to grow and learn over the past 3 months, and I will be taking the experiences I had here to help me for the rest of my life. If you decide to undertake this experience as well, do it with poise, work hard, and in the end, be proud of yourself, because it’s not an easy thing to do.
Stephen Dwyer is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2022, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An operations & information management and sport management double major from University of Massachusetts Amherst, he is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.
Stephen's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.