I was so excited when I got my internship placement for the semester – an IT internship with Grant Thornton International. The position seemed to be very similar to my last IT internship back in Pittsburgh, so I had a lot of expectations of what my day-to-day activities were going to be in London. Some of these turned out to be true, but most were not. For example, at my last internship there were about 12 people all on the IT team and the office was constantly busy and noisy. However, to my surprise, my manager is actually from the US and works out of Nevada. There is only one other person, Alex, in my department who only started at the company a few months before me, so neither of us knew people in the office very well. At first I was definitely bummed about not having my manager on site, especially because I didn’t even know what she looked like (we Skype call but she doesn’t like to turn her camera on). However, after getting to know her a little more, I was excited to learn that she also studied abroad in London for a semester when she was in college. We were able to connect a lot more after that, as she knew what feelings I was experiencing and was able to give me recommendations on what to do, where to go, etc. Getting to know Alex took a bit longer but we were eventually able talk about music we both liked, as well as talking about Brexit.
My office is a bit odd in that it mostly consists of assistants, and small marketing and finance teams rather than including the main audit, tax, and advisory employees of Grant Thornton. It was difficult to get to know the other employees at first because they’re often traveling outside of the country, working from home, etc. A really nice way that I’ve been able to meet people is through the layout of the office. It runs on an open seating system so no one sits in the same spot everyday. This has allowed me to meet or at least see everyone in the office. The most challenging part of the internship so far has probably been feeling like I belong in the office. I’m the only intern and young person in the office, so for a long time I felt very out of place. However, meeting people and getting close to Alex has definitely helped me to feel comfortable in the office. If I was giving advice to a future student, I would recommend trying to find some kind of common ground between you and the other person as soon as possible. Something as simple as liking the same band can give you a lot of talking points and lead to good friendships.