One word: China.

Chinese and American work cultures have their difference, but at the foundation of work life, they are very similar. A business, no matter where its located, wants to develop its operation and be profitable, but how a business runs is where the differences in work cultures come into play.

I can’t judge all Chinese work culture based off of one job, so I want to compare my perception of American work culture to the work culture of my Chinese internship. American work culture is very formal. In my internship, the work culture is very informal. For example, my assigned dress code was business casual, but my company has a very different definition of business casual than what I am used to. Many employees wear shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers to work. Other employees might wear some nice pants, a button down, and sandals. I have dressed down occasionally, but I still try to dress like the definition of business casual I am used to because I live by the saying: “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”.

Another difference in the American work culture and my internship culture is the definition of a hard worker. I feel like in American work culture, hard work is shown through the final product, whether that is a report, a project, or other products. In China, an employee napping does not mean unproductivity, it means that employee is a hard worker because the Chinese view this as “this employee has worked so hard that he/she is so exhausted and fell asleep”.

Lastly, one of the first differences I ever felt while at my Chinese internship was how employees behaved near holidays. The Dragon Boat Festival, a national Chinese holiday, took place during my internship. The festival gave most workers Thursday and Friday off. I have realized in America, when there is a long weekend due to a holiday coming up, many workers will leave and take a half-day off on the last day of work before the holiday, but in China this practice is not common. I saw all the employees get there earlier than normal and work constantly and very hard throughout the whole day. No one left early because everyone wanted to finish as much work as possible before the holiday, something I do not see so common in America.

Although this internship has not changed my work style preference, it has shown me that I am capable of adapting to any work environment. I enjoy certain aspects of the American work culture and I also enjoy certain aspects of my Chinese internship’s work culture.

Victoria Suarez

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