What is work culture? As a cultural anthropologist, I understand “culture” to be an amorphous yet all-encompassing concept. In a workplace, the culture could be manifested in the language, dress code, how people interact with each other etc. Those external manifestations of culture also say a lot about the core of this organization and the people. Am I always expected to use formal language, suit up and maintain perfect punctuality? Do I have freedom in deciding my own pace and applying my ideas to my assignments and projects? Those traits say a lot to me about how employers value employees and expectation of this job.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice is like many other non-profit organizations in Washington DC. It is immersed in the metro DC environment, where people talk about politics and get much more formal than those in Ann Arbor. It is focused, on the niche of the civil rights that it advocates for with a group of analysts and activists who are passionate about the similar issues. This is what I like about it, that this organization is united in strategic planning and different departments work together to utilize their strengths respectively to achieve the same goal. I used to work in the policy and litigation department, and now taking this new position in the communications department, my assignments changed but not the core of work we are all trying to accomplish. In terms of employer and employee relationship, I also have a reasonable degree of freedom, where I can freely incorporate my understanding in my assignments and contribute to larger strategic thinking. This passion-driven, respectful and free work culture is growing on me.