Week 7 – Reflecting on Cultural Competence

When I am writing this blog, it is my sixth week in San Francisco. During these six weeks, I explored the whole city, met many new people and realized some differences. However, since I have not had any formal job before, it is also hard for me to compare the work culture. According to my limited experience, I personally think working on the west coast is not very different from the east coast. Speaking the same language, people on the west coast have many same habits as people from the east coast. However, due to the different environment, people in San Francisco also have some different work culture.

The first thing that is very impressive for me is the lack of punctuality of people in San Francisco. On the first day, I came to the office; I was the first person arriving. Even though the schedule of our company is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., employees are always late for 15 to 20 minutes. Therefore, I am always the first person starting to work almost every day. Then, I began to think about this question. I am wondering why the schedule is not very early, but people are still late. I came up with several reasons. The office of our company is located right next to the famous financial district. The housing price and other living costs are incredibly high. Therefore, most people, including my supervisor, choose to live out of the city, not only for the lower prices but also for the better living environment. In this case, everyone spends a lot of time on their way to the office. The transportation fee in San Francisco is also expensive. Thus, people usually choose to take public transportation. The city has different kinds of public transportation. However, it is still not convenient for many people. The subway is fast, but it sometimes delays for a long time, up to more than one hour. There are also many buses in the city, but the traffic jam is common during peak hours. For people living on the other bank, they also need to take the cruise to cross the bay. Since I am living in downtown, which is not far from the office, I take Uber with my friends to work. Therefore, I can save a lot of time and be punctual.

Another thing that I think is valuable and helpful is the flexibility of work. Even though employees in our company are often late for work, they automatically work longer in the afternoon before getting off work. For example, I come to work at 10 a.m and leave at 6 p.m. My supervisor sometimes arrives at 11 a.m., and he leaves at 7 p.m. There is no fixed lunch break, either. In this way, I can manage my time more efficiently. For example, I found one Pho restaurant within 5 min walk, so I usually go there with my colleagues for lunch. However, the restaurant is pretty busy, from 12 to 1:30. Therefore, without fixed lunch bread time, we can go to have lunch at 2, which saves a lot of time. 

The working atmosphere in our office is also harmonious and friendly. When we are working, we do not talk a lot. Everyone is busy with their own tasks. However, since I am new here, and this is my first internship in the venture capital industry, everyone assists me as much as possible. My supervisor also spends a lot of time explaining details to me even if he is busy with meeting clients and investors. After work, my colleagues and I sometimes hang out during the weekend. They introduced this new city to me, and we explored foods, visited museums and watched basketball games together.

Even though I have not worked in other companies before, I heard some experiences from my friends working in New York and Washington, D.C. They told me that they had to be very punctual because they had a regular meeting every morning and 9:10. The lunch break is also fixed at half an hour from 12. Even though punctuality and inflexibility make employees more organized, I think I enjoy the work culture in San Francisco more.

How time flies! It has already been six weeks, and I just have two more weeks. Through these six weeks, I felt extremely accomplished and fulfilled. Even though feeling exhausted after work every day, I am always excited about challenging myself and exploring the new world.