US Perspective of the UK Work Place
There are many known differences between the US and the UK: coffee vs. tea, driving on the right vs. driving on the left, fries vs. chips, etc... Whether you spend a week or a few months in London there are some less common differences you’ll start to notice: refrigerating eggs vs. not, “pants” vs. “trousers,” bars vs. pubs etc…
I have been in London for about a month now and I get to have a very interesting perspective. I notice a lot more unknown differences between Americans and English because I get to work with them. The program I am studying with in the UK allows me the opportunity to intern at a British company while I am here. I was fortunate enough to be matched with the MAMA Youth Project.
What I have enjoyed most about this experience (besides the experience itself) is being able to interact with Londoners everyday somewhere no tourist or friend of a friend suggests for me to visit, a working British office.
I figured working in an office would be the same everywhere ya know? There’s a boss, other workers, perhaps a water cooler (maybe to gossip around), generic stuff. British offices have these things, but the dynamics are WAY OFF.
In the US offices are very professional, no personal talk/time, “business casual” attire (ties, dress “trousers,” dresses, heals), exchanging superficial pleasantries (saying hello to coworkers, how was your weekend), etc…
In the UK none of these things exist. The dress code, at least where I, and many others in my program, wear “smart casual” which is jeans and a nice t shirt. Although coworkers don’t really say hi when you come in the morning, you will never be able to ditch someone asking you if you want tea. And when someone asks about your weekend, they are genuinely curious how it went! People here care to know their coworkers. Also, the hierarchy in the office is less apparent; bosses dress casual, do dishes in the office kitchen and offer to take their foreign interns on a tour of London (ok that last one might actually just be me).
Being in London I have learned a lot, but working in a London office and being immersed in a true British setting is an experience so few others get.