Name: Carolina Portugal
Position: Community Developer
Company: Digital Fabrication Startup
Startups can be a risky choice for those just starting out their careers. It is the unknown, it is a jump into an uncertain and often unstable future. It can be even scarier if you move across the world to join a startup- yet Carolina Portugal, 25, takes it with stride. Carolina is a Brazilian Community Developer located in Spain.
We met at Michigan State University when she was doing a year and a half-long exchange program. She studied design in her undergraduate at Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (Technological Federal University of Paraná) in southern Brazil.
She says that while university definitely helped her discover more about the world, she didn’t feel exactly prepared for what she does today. “I learned that I didn’t want to be the typical designer and I had to find other related jobs that I enjoy more,” she mentions.
Cultural Chameleon: What exactly does a Community Developer do?
Carolina: I kind of do some B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing, as well as user support. I try to reach possible communities that would be interested in using the website.
I have a really flexible job with no set hours and not much of a routine. Every day is a new challenge and surprise. At times too, it can get boring.
Could you describe your workplace and employees?
My company is really international; the main office is in Madrid but we have people all over the world working with us. The company has 4 co-founders, who are all young and nice. There are some coding guys, me, and also a few interns. The main office in Madrid is in a co-working space where those who are based in Madrid are at the same table. Before, I was working alone in Barcelona to close a deal with a client there.
What do you love most about your job?
I love how I can be involved with many cool projects, and how I don’t have to do the same task every day.
What don’t you like about your job?
It’s hard to find something I don’t like about it, I’m in love with what I do. But I guess I’d like to make a more concrete career plan for myself.
How did you hear about this job and what was the hiring process like?
I found this job through LinkedIn as an old internship offer and sent an email to ask if they were still looking for people. I did an interview and started as an intern, then after three months, I was officially hired.
What kind of projects do you work on?
I go to maker fairs, which are super fun, and open door days. I also coordinated a big partnership with FabLab.io. I’m starting to join my boss in calls with big clients too!
As a Brazilian abroad in Spain, could you tell me about some struggles you encountered with moving for work?
First, I got my Italian citizenship, my family comes from Italy. I had to register a Número de Identificación de Extranjero*, NIE, which was kind of difficult in Barcelona even for an EU citizen. I went to Milan to make it in the Spanish Embassy faster.
I don’t speak perfect Spanish so it was quite tricky to find a job, but I’m lucky that my field works in English for the most part. Here, I rent a room but it’s not that hard to rent a whole apartment, although it’s more expensive.
*Official Foreign Identification
That being said, are you financially independent?
For the last five months, YES!!!
What are your career aspirations?
I still don’t know, maybe I might want to open my own school on maker education. But I definitely could see myself working at this company for a long time, I just don’t know what sector…
Is what you’re working with now aligned to what you would want to do in the future?
Yes, I’m in the area that I enjoy. During my undergrad, I was really frustrated because I didn’t like being a designer. However, I was always fascinated by new technologies and the interference of design on people’s daily lives. Now, I’m still working in the area without having to work as a designer. I know for the future, I’ll have to find a more specific area to specialize in.
Follow Carolina on Instagram to see her life and travels in Spain @carolaportugal.