Work Memo No. 1: Shoot me an email

Every week as part of my Learning through Internships class, I have to file an internship work memo about what I’ve done during the week. In addition to compiling a list of my tasks for the week, I get to write a bit about some of the observations I’ve made about the publication and how it works, or in general working in a British workplace. Since I’ve reached my halfway point in the summer, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve taken away from working as a web intern with the Radio Times thus far (y’know, other than adding in a few extra letters in words like “favourite” and “programme”).

RADIO TIMES — WEEK 2

One of the first things I heard about the average British work environment is the way communicate through email. Specifically, another student who had participated in this program said that communication in general was very sparse at her workplace. Email was the way to go, but even then, she had to be careful to address all her emails formally and also sent them sparingly so as to not disturb her co-workers.

I didn’t really think much of that again until I got to the Radio Times office. Since other MU students have interned with the weekly magazine outlet, I asked the most recent intern if she had any advice for my time here this summer, and she also brought up tips regarding the method of communication around the office. She said that most of it was done through email, which reminded me of what I had heard earlier, so I thought I would be pretty adequately prepared or at least aware of the adjustments I would need to make.

Maybe it’s because I work in the web department, where everything is fast-paced, that the formality of the emails isn’t nearly as structured as I would have thought. This week I received a few where the whole message was in the subject line, or it would contain a singular sentence asking me to do something without punctuation, let alone a formal address. That part was little comforting since it reflected the more relaxed atmosphere of the web department. Then again, the way that people around the office rely so heavily on email communication throughout the day instead of just talking about it face to face is something I’ll need more time adjusting to. I remember that on one of my first days when I was setting up some of my administrative accounts, one of the assistant editorial directors emailed me to “give her a shout” if I had any questions. I thought this was particularly interesting considering she was just a few seats down from me and could have easily just reached over and told me.

Just Wednesday, another writer asked if I wanted to talk to her about any questions I might have to prepare for my interviews with the Monsters University filmmakers. This, of course, was done through email. With the promise of more face-to-face communication with anyone in the office, I jumped at the chance, only to have her suggest we meet Thursday morning. I though this was odd since we were also just a few seats away and could have taken a five-minute break to chat about it in the break room. I think that if this kind of exchange were to happen in a newsroom in the states, stopping by each other’s workspaces would be a lot more acceptable. But here, it’s seen as a disturbance, and email is an easier way to let others get back to you on their own time. Then again, that also reflects the way email in the UK generally isn’t seen as immediate the way it is in the states.

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