Working Life in the UK

As my program comes to a close (we are starting the last week and I’m just not ready), I wanted to talk about working life in the UK and my internship. This post probably belongs with some of the earlier ones about my neighborhood and first arriving in London, but I wanted to wait to write about it toward the end after I got comfortable working there and be able to reflect upon what I observed and experienced.

My internship is at a market research firm that uses eye tracking technology. They do weekly field studies and reports as well as a couple long term studies and software development projects. My roll as the intern this term to assist with the field studies: going to the site and learning to set up the equipment, setting people up to do the study and collecting their information when it is over. I also get to learn about the eye tracking technology, how to use it and help them test different software prototypes they are working on. I also work longer research projects about the industry and compile information on potential clients. I’m learning a lot about the marketing industry and what makes a good study. Aside from that I have been learning a lot about office life in the UK

The office that I work in is about an hour commute from my home in Shepard’s Bush to north London. The building that it is in contains a bunch of other companies, mostly other start-ups, with a little cafe in the bottom. The office is one room with a set of tables for the marketing people and a set of tables for the IT people. The environment is very relaxed. People address each other by first, they are all really good friends and music is playing pretty much all the time. I sometimes get invited to eat my lunch with some of them in the park or in the cafe and some times we play table tennis at lunch. Even though music is playing, most people are quietly doing their work.

The main difference I have noticed between the UK and the US is in company structure. In the UK companies have a parallel structure meaning that most people are on the same level as the boss, people from any level can voice opinions or ideas and the CEO or founder might sit next to the interns whereas in the US there is a clear structure and order of power. The higher-ups usually have their own offices and are addressed in more formal terms and there are usually HR systems for voices complaints or opinions. Neither system is better than the other they are just different. I will have to say that I am really enjoying the UK system because I feel less like an intern and more like a regular employee just part of the team, but maybe that’s just.

So, that was just a little bit about working life in the UK and at my internship.

Until next time,