As I sit at my desk to write this, the sounds of Paris wander in through my window: the hum of the metro, the zipping of scooters, the muffled voices of patrons at a nearby café. It is late on a Sunday night and the streets of Paris still stir with life; one of the many things I have come to admire about this city. In the past 10 days, I have learned many new things, explored new places, met new people and most importantly — I have begun my new role as an international intern.
The company I am working for is startup travel agency, focused on European vacations for families with children. The whole idea behind the company is to make these trips enjoyable for kids by engaging them in fun activities, while at the same time exposing them to the rich culture and history that European cities have to offer. My office is located in the heart of Paris and has around 15 to 20 employees in total. My first few days on the job were intimidating and a bit overwhelming, but I have started to feel more comfortable as I talk with more of my coworkers and get used to how things are done.
The work environment is exciting and fast passed, with lots of verbal communication and small meeting sessions. Being a travel agency, the team consists of well-traveled people from all over France and other parts of the world. At different times throughout the day, I have heard English, Spanish, and Italian being spoken in addition to French. It has been a challenge for me to communicate only in French, knowing that everyone there speaks English as well, but I am dedicated to my goal of improving my French.
I have observed several major differences in the way my company works compared to my professional experience back home. First, most employees do not arrive in the morning until 10, with some of them coming in even later. Consequently, employees begin leaving around 6:30 or later most evenings. In addition, the team takes a lunch break around 1:30, where many of us will go out to buy food at a nearby restaurant or boulangerie and return to the office to eat together at the conference table. This is usually an hour long affair and a great opportunity to socialize. However, it can definitely be overwhelming for someone like me whose French is not perfect, as there are many conversations going on at once. I’ve also found that—much like the stereotype—the French tend to run late when it comes to meetings and deadlines. This, at least, has been true for my company in the short time I have been with them.
Although it will take some time to fully adjust to this new working environment, I am confident that I will soon get the hang of things. I am also certain that this experience will help me grow as an individual, as a student and as a professional.
A la prochaine,