With my internship gradually coming to an end after a detailed journey on the roadmap to getting a coop and eventually getting a placement, it is important to talk about the Canadian work culture has been like for me.
I will start this off by saying work culture varies from organisation to organisation so this is not a one size fit all situation. Also, the role you play in an organisation defines what your experience is going to be like. I was told from the get-go that there is lots of work to be done and to some extent, I underestimated the workload.
During the course of my internship, I have been a Digital marketer, Sales Person, IT Specialist, Web Designer, Event Coordinator, Content Creator, Client Specialist and the list could go on and on. With all that being said, here are the 10 things that summarize my internship experience :
I have enjoyed and explored the views of Downtown Halifax in the last 3 months and it was definitely worth it. From having yummy Ice cream from Cows to the beautiful views of the waterfront. Whenever the day is getting tough and I need a break, I stare outside my window to enjoy the happenings in downtown Halifax.
Meetings can be really long and draining especially when there is a back to back meeting. There are days where I would have on average 2-3 meetings which could vary between the 1-2 hours. In these meetings, you are expected to express your thoughts on the subject matter and keeping silent is not an option. If you include your break time, you soon realize there is actually no time to perform tasks. Which sometimes can be very frustrating if you have lots of tasks to deliver on. Once meetings are over, everything becomes fast-pace because everyone is expecting you to deliver your task.
3. Informal language
Phrases like “sounds good” “let’s chat about that” have to be in your vocabulary has it means you have successfully crossed over into fitting in the Canada work culture.
4. US vs UK English
I cannot even count how many times there was so much laughter in the room because of the UK English spellings I use. The “-ise” versus “-ize” has definitely been the highlight of my internship experience and I am still struggling with it. From time to time I get report feedback to change all these UK spellings to the US spellings which is definitely part of the fitting into the Canadian work culture.
5. Respect is relative
In Nigeria, being older in the workplace means “I deserve respect” and “I am in charge” even though there is no title to officially state the older person is in charge. Whilst working in Canada, I have had to give people in their late 40s and 50s tasks to deliver on, be firm with deadlines and most importantly no one takes it personally.
In the good and bad times and of course the very busy days, I listen to podcasts to keep me going. They help me have conversations in my head that I cannot voice out because I am at work. Some of my go-to podcasts are 90’s baby show, The Receipts and Deadass. Share some of your favourite podcasts in the comment section.
How will I talk about work and not talk about food in my belly? I really hated packing lunch in Nigeria. I was usually like I can’t wake up early in the morning to make lunch. All of a sudden I do that on a regular basis now. Other days when I don’t feel up to the task of making lunch it would be a time to explore restaurants downtown like Pickford and Black, Stone’s Throw, Scotia Square Food Court. Of course, a lot of meetups happen during lunchtime. It is the best time to catch with any of my faves have been dying to hang out with.
8. Extracurricular activities outside of work
If you want to have conversations with people at the workplace it’s best to ensure you are outgoing because the pressure is real. To some extent, I will say I am outgoing and working in the summer made it even much better. Best believe no one is trying to do much after work in the winter. I resume Friday morning with what are you doing this weekend? And a recap session on Monday morning with what did you do over the weekend? If I don’t have any plan and I say nothing – the next line of conversation goes you should do something, the weather is going to be nice this weekend. Thankfully on some weekends, I could say I went to the Beach, Victoria Park or the Amusement park or whatever I got up to during the weekend that was fun.
9. Canadians Take Their Holidays Seriously
When a long weekend is approaching the amount of out of office emails in my inbox will increase. A lot of people will work only Monday through Thursday and enjoy the long stretch break with Tuesday of the following week being the first business day.
10. Geography and Pronunciation Class
It’s been one semester of geography class – explaining where Nigeria is, what the culture is like, the languages, the people, the Lagos traffic of course! Oh yeah and pronunciation class as well. It made me realize that for the most part, Nigerian names sound like songs as the pronunciation goes up and down but a name like Mark is flat (not sure you can break that into syllables) while a name like Tolulope is more like Toe- lu- lo -pe. Don’t let me even get started on how to pronounce my last name, Oh welps! I love being Nigerian.