I set out six outfits before I went to bed, flinging pants around my little shared room while my roommates looked on in horror. I woke up liking none of the outfits. The same question had been haunting me for the last two weeks: What did Business Smart mean in the United Kingdom. I had a vague idea of what this meant in the states; nicer than normal. A pair of pants instead of jeans, a nice top instead of a t-shirt. But for some reason everyone feels fancier here. From clothes to academia, I feel like the Walmart version of a 20 year old walking around the city. The worst could happen: I show up to my interview overdressed. Now looking back, I was mostly worried about the content of the interview while distracting myself with trivial ideas. Would I get the internship? Do I know enough about the company? Do I know enough about Finance? What are they looking for? But for my brain that morning, it was much easier to focus on the dress pants that I had finally settled on and the need for a sweater that said “fancy” but not “FANCY”. Walking into the district that my job is in, I saw to my horror women and men in suits and long trench coats. I would call that business formal – very business formal. However, there was no going back to the apartment, not that there was anything waiting there that would be better suited. When I went into the building, what I was wearing was perfectly suitable. The interview went so well. Even though there may be many differences in the language that is spoken between the United States and the United Kingdom that I have noticed since getting here, there was no notable difference in the interview. This is because we were speaking of business and finance softwares and projects that have a universal nature. The company is centered on the idea of investment and sustainability, both global issues. It was easy to integrate ideas from classes and past experiences. Overall the communication during the interview was very simple, there was no need for me to worry.
Reflecting over the interview process, it has been one of my most important communications with the local people to date. We meet people on our trips, in coffee shops, or in the pubs at nighttime and hear about London: where to shop, where to get the best breakfast, what tube line is favored at rush hour. You can hear differences in social differences in culture and language. However, during my interview I heard and learned business differences like how there is less of a hierarchical relationship for my bosses and how there are more co-working spaces and less formal offices. There are differences in acronyms of business reports and expected skills that I have. London is the most urban place that I have ever worked or lived in, and these differences help me understand what it would be to one day live and learn in London or a place like it. It will also help me learn how to deal with different cultures while in my future career.
Attached, I show a few pictures of the area of my internship. It is right by Westminster and the London eye. I have a view of Big Ben from my desk (not pictured – did not want to spoil it on my first day!).