Work Abroad

Case Study: Hiromi's Internship Experience in London

When Hiromi, a diligent university student from Kyoto, set foot in Google's London office for her internship, she was thrilled yet apprehensive. It was a multicultural environment, a melting pot of intellect, creativity, and cultural nuances. Fresh from her study abroad experience in London, Hiromi was eager to navigate this new professional journey.

The first dimension of Erin Meyer's Culture Map that she encountered was Communicating. Raised in a high-context culture in Japan, Hiromi was used to indirect, nuanced communication, full of unspoken understanding. She had to adjust quickly to her British manager's clear, concise, and direct instructions, characteristic of a low-context culture.

Evaluating was another dimension that came into play. Hiromi was taken aback when her supervisor from Germany gave her direct negative feedback during a project review. Back in Japan, criticism was often nuanced and delivered in private. She learned to appreciate this directness, understanding that it aimed at her work improvement, not to offend her personally.

During project discussions, Hiromi observed the Persuading dimension. She was intrigued by the differences between her Indian teammate's applications-first approach and her French colleague's principles-first approach. She quickly learned to adapt her arguments, aligning them with her colleagues' styles of persuasion.

In terms of Leading, she found the Google office to be egalitarian, which was quite different from the hierarchical culture she was accustomed to. Everyone was encouraged to contribute ideas and question assumptions, regardless of their level within the company. It took a bit of time, but she soon felt comfortable voicing her thoughts during meetings.

She noted the Deciding aspect during a brainstorming session. The decision-making was consensual, which was similar to what she had experienced in Japan. However, the process was much faster, reflecting the dynamism of the tech industry.

Hiromi also noticed how Trust was built. She bonded with her colleagues over shared meals and personal discussions, a form of affective trust. This was familiar to her, as it resembled Japanese 'nomikai' or drinking sessions where trust was deepened.

Disagreement was another aspect she had to acclimate to. Her American team members were comfortable being confrontational, challenging each other openly. Hiromi, from a culture that avoided confrontation, had to learn that this was a healthy part of the brainstorming process.

Lastly, the dimension of Scheduling also surfaced. Google's project management was largely linear, similar to what Hiromi was used to. However, the timelines were tighter and necessitated efficient work habits.

Navigating through these various cultural dimensions was initially challenging for Hiromi. However, as she continued her internship, she not only gained a broader understanding of global cultures but also developed an appreciation for the richness they brought to the workplace. She realised that each culture had its strengths and that leveraging these could lead to greater success in this global world. Her internship at Google London became more than just a work experience; it was a journey of personal growth and cultural enlightenment.