Professional Environment

Professional Environment

It can be difficult to adjust to a new country and culture. For some international scholars, the U.S. workplace may seem more informal than what they are used to. For example, workers and supervisors, may speak and dress quite casually. It is, however, important to recognize that there is still a respected hierarchy, and relationships remain formal.

Scholar PI/Supervisor

Maintain and build a good relationship with your work supervisor by setting an example of professionalism and communicating clearly and openly. Begin by understanding the norms and expectations of your lab or office. What are expected work hours? Are there any departmental meetings that you are required to attend? What protocols must one follow in the case of an unplanned absence or lateness?

Always ask if you are unclear about any of the policies and procedures. The work environment, and your supervisor may be very casual in dress or attitude, but this is in keeping with university culture. Be careful not to mistake the informality for a lack of respect or seriousness. U.S. culture is a more informal culture, but hierarchies still exist and are respected. Don’t assume a first name basis for example, or come to a meeting unprepared because it doesn’t seem serious. It is much better to be too formal, than too informal.

Academic & Professional Resources and Policies