Sarah McHugh – Differences in the Workplace

After a few weeks at my internship with Galleria Emmeotto, I began to pick up on a few differences based on working habits and attitudes in comparison with those of the United States.  While we discussed some of these differences in the classroom, it was easier for me to pick up on them while actually at the internship itself. One thing that stood out to me the most was the attitude about work ethic and time management in Italy in comparison with the United States. For example, my supervisor would give me an assignment with the instructions to finish it but to take as long as I needed. She also encouraged me to take breaks and work on other assignments because she was worried I would get bored working on something so trivial for such an extended period of time. This was such a huge shocker based on the types of work ethics I was used to at home in the United States at my previous places of employment. I was used to being told to finish up with a project as soon as possible so I could make the most out of my time during the workday. Another difference that I noticed was how a lot of my time spent at the gallery was spent talking to my supervisor and conversing with her about my personal life or hers. I learned so much about the Italian way of life simply by spending 30 minutes a day with my supervisor and asking her about her life. Even though I was just an intern, I was able to witness a lot of business deals within the gallery that took place between my colleagues and a potential buyer or client artist. The gallery owners paid most respect to the artists that they had worked with before and made sure their needs were met before any others. They did not focus so much on the buyer as they did the artist; if the artist was not satisfied with the buyer or the offered price my colleagues would not go through with the sale. This was something that was extremely surprising to me after having worked in the United States. I was used to the owners doing whatever it took to make a sale, even if it was displeasing to the artist in any way. After learning about Italian business in class, however, these practices started to make more sense to me and I began to see the value in them. Now I believe it is important to find a balance between the artist and a buyer and making sure you can make both of them happy. These are some of the types of things I want to bring back with me when I begin working again in the United States.