Job Hunt: Understanding Office Culture

Whether you’re a senior gearing up to begin the infamous job hunt or a current student seeking out the perfect internship to hone your skills, there are so many factors which must be considered. Which city would you like to work in? Are you more interested in social media or media relations? How many hours can you really bear to put in each work week? All of these questions are important, but one that is often overlooked is: what kind of culture do I want in the workplace?

Workplace culture is a huge factor in what will become your overall work experience. More than clocking hours and crunching deadlines, your job will be filled with different people who all come together to create the environment in which it all happens. Your job is more than the whole of what your company produces, but rather the sum of the individual parts which build a company culture.

The best way to learn and understand what an office’s culture is like is by researching materials produced by them, and materials produced about them. This helps you gain two perspectives and create an unbiased opinion about what working there may really be like. Start on the company’s website, reviewing their mission statement, any press releases or media material they’ve made available, and bios of employees. Take the next step, and reach out to your own personal network to see if you can get a first hand account of the office culture. Your old boss or classmate may have either worked for or with that company, and may be able to provide helpful insights.

If you’re still unsure if the office culture would be a good fit for you, informational interviews give you the chance to grab information right from the source. Ask questions like:

– Do the employees here often work late into the night, or leave at the end of the regular work day?
– Does the company support employees working from home?
– How do members of the organization interact with each other during the workday?
– How do the different roles in the organization come together to support each other?
– What sets this organization apart from others in the industry?
– What keeps you committed to this company?
– What is the dress code in the office?

These questions give you insights into what happens beyond the services that the organization produces. Experiencing different office settings will help you determine which aspects of office culture you like and dislike. Would you rather work in an office where the dress is casual, or where there are strict guidelines regarding dress code? Experiencing both of these settings will help you determine an answer truly right for you and your interests.

Do you consider office culture when applying for jobs or internships? Share your own experiences below in the comments section!

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