I am currently in my third week of my internship working for Jon Cruddas- Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham. It has really been an eye opening experience for me in terms of UK politics as well as my own career aspirations. I can say that I have learned more about the workings of UK politics in 3 weeks of working for my MP then I have in a semester’s worth of classes. My job entails doing casework for constituents, writing letters to constituents and other government officials, entering data into computers, campaigning, and general office assitant work. Every day is something different. The workplace differences between the UK and US are vast. In the US, time is very important and not something to be wasted. Deadlines have to be met, and it can be a very stressful place to work. The UK, in comparison, is extremely laid back and very casual. My office, for example, is casual dress, which means jeans and a sweatshirt is the norm. I am expected to take an hour lunch break and not do any work at all. In fact, I was yelled at when I did some work during my lunch. I am expected to take my time with work and not get it done in the fastest way possible like many businesses in the US. Also, my co-workers are about my age which makes the office fun and never boring. In fact it is really common to have co-workers and even bosses to be very young in the UK. While these things aren’t necessarily a uniform thing throughout the country, they are common in many workplaces with friends I have talked to. It really is a nice change of pace from a US workplace and something I will miss.
Alex Yurk is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).