Many U.S. students who venture across the pond for a U.K. work placement have some trepidation about what to expect in the workplace. While these students won’t have to worry about language barriers like other overseas interns, there are still plenty of cultural differences.
Here are tidbits that will help you navigate the etiquette of the British workplace.
In general, Brits tend to speak more quietly than Americans. In fact, some people might say they like to mumble. Therefore, it is important to listen carefully when a colleague is speaking.
Be mindful of your own volume, especially when making a phone call. Don’t shout!
Also, always keep your cell phone on silent or vibrate while at work. This is a helpful tip in nearly all work environments, but it is especially important in the U.K. At the very least, abstain from obnoxious ring tones.
Brits tend to be less direct than Americans. Therefore, you will need to read between the lines. A question isn’t always a question. In fact, it could be your boss’s polite way of telling you to do something.
If you are uncertain about what you are supposed to do, speak up. Ask your own questions – in your own direct way!
Eventually, you will make friends at work. However, it might take awhile. Don’t share too much personal information too soon.
A New Brand of Humor
Brits like to joke around. Their banter often includes self-deprecating humor, irony, and teasing. Feel free to join in. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t worry. You aren’t obligated to joke around too. Instead, sit back and enjoy the show!
During your London work placement, you’ll be at the epicenter of the U.K. You’ll probably encounter people from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Note, these people shouldn’t be referred to as English; British is a more accurate term.
The generalization about Brits and their love affair with tea is broadly correct. It’s pretty common for the locals to enjoy a cup of hot, black tea with a splash of milk numerous times throughout the day.
It is customary for the locals to offer to bring a cup to their colleagues when they make their own. Follow suite and bring a cup to your work associates. During the first week, ask how everyone likes their beverage. Take note and remember to make the drink correctly in the future.
Keep these tips in mind as you prepare to head overseas. Be mindful of the cultural differences and you’ll do great!
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Adam provide career advice to the students and he love to write educational topics specifically internships opportunities in abroad.