I have the unique opportunity to work with an investment company as an intern while I study here in London. I have mentioned it in my earlier journals as I went to interviews and started my first big day. Working in London has been an eye-opening experience from both a cultural and career basis. Everything from “You have NEVER had a Sunday night pub dinner???” to the very specific American stereotypical questions has helped me feel more at home in London. The very specific and complicated working team dynamic has held my attention for the last few weeks. My favorite part of this is being more engrossed in the culture. I get to get up and join the mad rush for the tube or if there are tube strikes that day, I join an endless line for the three buses I must take. Then I get to chat with my co-workers who are mostly not from London but instead Greece, Portugal, or Hungry. I get to hear all of their stories or their weekend plans. The more confusing part of my job is figuring out a hierarchy. There is one in my department, as more of a corporate landscape. However it is less defined than the states by far. In the states everyone knows the heads of each department, they have their own offices and assistants. The heads host meetings and are respected and sometimes feared by their colleagues. However in the United Kingdom, specifically in my workplace, there are no separate offices. Everyone is divided roughly by programs at large desks. The program heads sit in all different places, usually sending an email or hosting a weekly meeting if there is a particular issue. This creates an ecosystem that I would relate to a bee hive. This collective work together to use all their skills in the most efficient way. I had to work hard to find who the leader of the department was, however this task felt unnecessary. Everyone was treated with the same respect and tolerance. Once, I was at a mixer after work having a conversation with a man who I thought might have been out of my department or my program as I hadn’t seen him around the office at a workspace. I had been talking to him for about 30 minutes until an American colleague of mine said “hey boss” and they began a conversation. A week later during a staff meeting, I learned the man was CEO and founder of the company. The division between hierarchy is almost non-existent teaching me an important lesson on teamwork in the workplace. The productivity of the workspace is still very high, but with more of a work life balance and people-oriented emphasis. This kind of workspace allows me to get to know many people without the worry that is usually associated with communicating in the states. I have reached all people from all levels of the company. I have been accepted by people on all levels as well, they are happy to schedule a time to talk about their role or to help me with a project that could benefit their program.
Enjoy some pictures from my recent trip to Paris!