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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

TIP: The World of Work: Understanding Company Culture

You’ve landed the internship, set a budget, and created 2-3 SMART goals.  Soon, you’ll be entering the world of work.  The world of work has a different culture than your college campus.  How do you navigate the world of work and understand its culture?

Here is what a few of our employers say:

Julie Armstrong, Talent Management

Have you ever heard someone say that you learn organizational culture when you bump up against it (for example, violate an unwritten rule or norm)?  Company culture can be a hard thing to learn – you often begin to understand it as you experience it – and the more you experience, the more you understand.  However, there are ways to help you better understand, earlier on, and make your transition as a new employee smooth.  You can ask your manager about aspects of the company culture that he or she thinks you should know.  Also ask your manager about the team culture – How does the team tend to work together?  What are their preferred ways of communicating?  Are there any team norms you should know about?  A particularly valuable way to understand company culture is having a mentor or “buddy” that is not your manager, and perhaps closer in level to you, but still a bit more experienced.  If your organization offers this to new employees, take advantage!  If they do not formally offer such a program, ask your manager if there is someone who would be particularly helpful for you to seek out as an informal mentor for the summer.  A person like this can be a great resource as you attempt to understand the company and integrate yourself as a member of the team.  Finally, be a keen observer of what goes on around you – you will learn things that will help you successfully navigate the organization.


Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Observe others’ behaviors, talk to supervisors and peers what the cultural norms are, and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense. It is better to ask a trusted source about culture than accidentally make a mistake or wrong impression!


Ashton Longest, Recruiter

The best way to understand our company culture is by looking to our experienced employees. This is particularly important as company culture varies greatly among our clients and the engagement teams assigned to those clients. As a rule of thumb, always try to emulate the dress and conduct of the senior professionals on your engagement teams. Follow their discretion and let them lead by example when it comes to the appropriate level of conservatism within a specific environment. All of our experienced employees are here as a resource for interns and new hires, so if you ever question whether or not certain actions are suitable, just ask.



Category: Professional Development

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