Interestingly, despite having the opportunity to travel to 8 different countries in Europe, one of my largest culture shocks while abroad was the difference in European work culture, specifically in the UK, versus in the United States. During my time in London, I was a 20-minute walk away from London’s financial center, which is the workplace for some of the UK’s most talented professionals. Despite London being a fast-paced city, the work culture is not fast-paced relative to the United States. Job expectations in the UK are much more reasonable, allowing for a healthier work-life balance with fewer work hours per week and considerably more paid time off. For example, seeing a banker leave the office in late hours during the night is uncommon in London, while common in New York City’s financial center. I found it very common to see bankers in London socializing at local pubs on weekdays in the late afternoon and early evening, implying that they have a healthy work balance with time for socializing. This is quite uncommon in the United States as bankers, consultants, analysts, and other professionals generally work 80 hours per week, with some employees working up to 110 hours per week. In addition, workers in the United States are only entitled to 10 days with paid time off, while in the United Kingdom, workers are entitled to 28 days with paid time off.
Being a junior who is currently exploring the job market, this brings a very important factor for consideration while searching for internships and full-time employment opportunities. While pay compensation in the United States may seem to be generous, professionals are often underpaid considering the workweek hours required by their jobs. This is very important to consider when deciding what industry you desire to work in and also what location you wish to be employed, especially if you are open to working abroad.
Angel Hill is a student at Babson College and studied abroad with IFSA at the University of Westminister in Spring 2022 semester.