Working in a European office

By Miguel Pineda

As a recently arrived intern I was amazed with all of the opportunities that Washington, D.C. has to offer. It would be impossible to see all that D.C. has in just three months, but one thing that has already taught me a lot about Washington is my internship with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. As a new intern I expected to show up to work early in the morning everyday at 8am and work hard until at least 5pm, a typical workday for many Americans.

I quickly found out that European business practices are MUCH more laid back than a typical American office. It started when I first met my boss Mark, or Mr. Yates as I call him. On my first day of work I showed up extra early and in a full suit, ready to run coffee to whoever needed it. When he saw me he immediately said that I was too overdressed and that I was way too early for work. Although we hit it off after that, he made sure to explicitly tell me three different times that I had to come to work from 10am-4:30pm, business casual, and if I needed any days off for anything to just let him and I could have them.

Naturally I was shocked. I had always been told that hard work and dedication were the cornerstones to any job. Literally every side job I had ever had from dishwasher to construction worker had been very clear about the standards they expected and that shortcuts were not an option. Here it seemed like I could come and go as I pleased. After about a week or two I realized how inclusive my coworkers really were. All of them had very open minds and were extremely curious of my time working. Not only did I not have to make coffee for everyone, but I was put on assignments where I really helped the reporters in the office work. I felt like I was contributing to the team, and like I was really doing better.

My coworkers (who also had a similar work schedule to mine) seemed much more happy and easy going despite the amount of content and the production quality that they produce. Each reporter put out at least two stories a week, by either radio or television, but I could never understand how they managed to put out so much content in such little time. I then realized that the European model of doing work was much more effective for the worker and therefore the company. My coworkers were not worried about being treated well, their pay or even how much time they spent at the office. I learned that a shorter workweek helped me in my work life, as well as my personal and financial life. It was completely different than what I was used to, but I quickly adapted to how it worked.

Another interesting aspect was the variety of different languages that were spoken when I went into work. Everyday I heard people talking in Italian, German, French, and English just within my office. Our break room, which is shared by other European broadcasters, is always full of people speaking languages from all over. Everyday I am greeted by new languages, accents, and even terminology making for an exciting and diverse work environment.

European offices were definitely something that I was not used to. I personally have found them to be friendlier, more nonchalant, and more appreciative of the work I do. I love how I feel like I am a part of a team, the more relaxed work dynamic, and the diversity all of which are present each and everyday. All in all I love my internship and all of the people that I met in it. With a little less than half of the summer to go I cannot wait to see what else is in store!