3 Days in the Books

I’ve worked a summer job every year since middle school in a variety of different fields, so it’s safe to say that I’m used to the daily struggles of a summer intern; I’ve worked in residential real estate, at a recruiting firm in the pharmaceutical industry, as a wrestling coach, at an ice cream shop, and at a liquor store. Still, even with all of this exposure, 3 days on the job in London has shown me that working in Britain is going to be different. Much different.

The atmosphere and vibe of the London workplace – at least in my experience – is much more relaxed and causal than that of the States. Here, grabbing a few drinks during lunch breaks is expected, coffee breaks are abundant, and office conversation is unremitting. Here, my colleagues bounce jokes off of each other and shoot rubber bands across the room when overall employee morale seems low. Here, the stupid mistakes of a new intern are expected, and aren’t met with scorn or frustration. Back home, I had become accustomed to a work environment fueled by competition and a no-nonsense type of mentality. I was used to spending my time at work with my head down and my nose to the grindstone, and I never expected to have fun carrying out the tedious duties that a summer intern is usually tasked with. Yet, I find myself in the same position here that I’ve been in during past summers, except now I’m having a little bit more fun. I’m still a summer intern who is left to do the office grunt work, but the positive attitudes of the people I work with make my position a little more tolerable. Maybe the fact that I’m in a foreign country has a little bit to do with it too – it’s definitely interesting to compare and contrast my experiences here to those back home as I explore this internship opportunity. I’m enjoying myself while learning more and more about the student accommodation industry every day, and am looking forward to seeing how this internship relates to the possibility of a career in investment real estate in my future.

  • I completely agree with your observations about the more casual, relaxed workplace. On my first day, I was definitely overdressed; everyone in the office was just wearing what’s comfortable for them. Also, since the office is so small, there is constant conversation about everything from the Euro Cup Football Tournament to the latest episode of Game of Thrones. At lunch, we even went down to the local pub for a beer and a game of darts. Yet somehow everyone manages to get their work completed well and in a timely manner. I think we would be smart to take a page out of the Londoners book on this work environment. If people enjoy being in the office, they probably get a lot more done.

    • Since I am working in a different office environment, I have kind of missed out on this but it makes me think of the British version of The Office which was the inspiration for the hit American spin-off with Steve Carrell. I guess this culture you are describing is what made the show possible. I agree with Hayden and think it is something that might be good to bring home. Yet, I will still never be able to understand how it works. The idea of taking a summer vacation as an adult for 4-8 weeks and not looking at e-mails just doesn’t seem like something many people could afford in the U.S.

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