By Emma Rust
For many college students the first time visiting a corporate office occurs simultaneously with a first or second round of job interviews, as well as all the accompanying nerves and pressure. Yet few students often consider the importance of the physical space they are in. The Huffington Post Australia reports that individuals spend thirteen years and two months in the office; that’s a lot of time! In the LMU College of Business Administration many students are familiar with, and often have themselves experienced, an informational interview which can be thought of as a practice job interview. Today I’d like to tell you about a tool I think is just as useful but rarely gets the attention it deserves: the site visit.
Last semester I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Horizon Media at their Century City office. This opportunity was extended to me by LMU alum, Lindsay Benitez. Ms. Benitez had invited me to conduct a job requisition class assignment on the company’s summer internship program. While I very much enjoyed the assignment itself, what struck me most was the office itself. Horizon Media is frequently on the top of “best places to work” and “most beautiful workspace” lists across the web, so it’s no surprise that their office on the 7th floor of a gorgeous Century City high rise is a beautiful open space with floor to ceiling views from the hollywood sign to downtown LA. The workspace itself is an open floor plan style similar to that of many up-and-coming as well as well established firms across many industries. Individuals work in open team spaces with personal workstations that are often moveable. There is plenty of light to help keep the energy up, and the noise is an appropriate level, a perfect way to gauge the energy of the workplace. By the end of my tour, I was thoroughly impressed by the style and atmosphere of Horizon that seemed to both be influenced by, while simultaneously influencing, the company’s culture.
My experience in the physical space inspired me to think more critically about visiting an employers and in what ways it could help me learn and grow. I knew that it was easy for anyone to remember things in threes, and was able to come up with three general categories one could use to guide their learning experience visiting a workplace. First is people; how are the employees actually accomplishing their work? Do they work in teams or alone? At desks, cubicles, offices, or something else? How do they seem, happy, sad, stressed, or at ease? Second is place; what is the physical space like? Light or dark? Hot or cold? Welcoming or dread-inducing? Finally one should consider culture; how do the spaces and the people interact? Do people use common areas, or are they mostly for show? Do people come to work early and stay late, or does everything empty out right at 5? Does the purposed culture of the company match that represented by the space?
Of course the most important thing to consider is the people, place, and culture in relation to what you are looking for in an employer. If you take a position with a company you are committing to spending a good majority of your day in that office. It’s important to consider if that space is one in which you can be both productive and joyful.