I cannot believe we’ve arrived at the last week of my European summer. After arriving home from Manchester at way-too-early-o’clock this morning, I have started to prepare to leave my apartment and life I’ve lead while I have been here. There is so much packing to do and so many activities I want to cross off my list before I finally depart, but this is a great time to reflect on my journey through my actual internship. I’ve on-boarded dozens of businesses nationwide onto a couple of Sweete’s big promotions, including one that my coworkers had been trying to form a connection with for years. I contacted hundreds of program winners, whether about gift cards or flights they had won, improving the days of each one. About midway through my time at the firm, I became a sort of travel agent, finding flights of optimal dates for customers for their desired destinations that would also maximize profit. Learning customer and interpersonal corporate relations has been a cornerstone of my experience here.
If you were to ask me if I believe I have been a successful intern throughout this period, I think I would say so. The way success is measured and defined here in Ireland does not seem to differ much from the United States. However, the biggest difference in how success is treated between the two countries seems to be in how it is actually achieved.
It is no secret that in the corporate world, effective communication, both verbal and written, is key to the clear execution of a project. Intentional wording of one’s goals and opinions and active listening and questioning of others’ ideas are aspects of this communication. Openness to suggestions and concerns of others – in other words, respect for the individual – is imperative for either of these to happen. Maintaining the principle of a common goal or profitability and maximizing value for owners keeps everyone in check from doing anything that would jeopardize that. This means voicing one’s opinions and making queries when something seems questionable or does not make sense. It also means keeping personal accountability, staying on task, and meeting deadlines. Each of these are elements of a successful venture in the US and in Ireland.
Differences surface when it comes to the attitude towards work. Employees must be completely dedicated to their companies, be willing to work long hours and during holidays, are socially discouraged from taking vacation, and always try to exceed bosses’ expectations. While there is nothing wrong with “overachieving,” and the necessity to do so can be an inevitable aspect of certain positions, the hustle culture present in the US is not the same in Dublin.
At my company, I have noticed strong leniency in the ability to work from home, especially coming out of COVID. Coworkers are supportive of people going home early or arriving late because of children, dogs, or outside responsibilities in a way that I have not seen in the US. Of course, using this as an excuse to slack off looks just as bad here as it does back home, but knowing everyone has your best interests in mind has been something I experience only sometimes in the States. Additionally, many of my coworkers throughout my short time at Sweete have taken a considerable amount of vacation days, potentially due to the ability to work from home whenever they want. Some have spent weeks in Italy or took a Monday or Thursday off to go to Spain. People in the US rarely have this level of freedom, and even if they work from home, adventuring far from their “home base” is not exactly looked well upon. Finally, people are dedicated to their jobs while in the office and may work late on occasion, but there is a separation from work and life that is not seen in the American work-life integration. While this means people are spending a smaller percentage of their day doing work-related actions, work is not connected to each activity they have to complete. Hour-long breaks during the day are meant for lunch, not time to read emails while eating. Calls, at least at my company, do not happen outside the 9-5:30 work day. Most notably, my coworkers only take their computers home when they know they will be working from home the next day. Otherwise, there is no expectation to do independent work outside the office. The working people in my life spend at least two hours extra everyday doing work, getting up earlier in the morning to finish something or going through documents while watching TV at night.
This internship experience has shaped my perception of work and my reference point for what are probably higher expectations for a job in the US. While I am not doing any work related to my actual major, I have benefitted from an office experience where I collaborate with coworkers, handle consumer relations, and am involved in several of the promotions the company runs. I have gained confidence that I would be able to handle the workload at a future position and quickly learn how to do the job. I wish to end this internship on a high note this last week and make the most contributions as I can to the organization that has done so much for me.