THE BLOG
12/12/2013 08:04 GMT | Updated 09/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Swapping Sweatpants for Suits, Russian for Rush Hour and Being Back at Big Blue

I have temporarily swapped slovenly student life for that of a suited city slicker.

With my track record in high heels, "city-stumbler" would be a more accurate description. I identify with this term, a "Helena original", not only due to my distinct lack of work experience but also as a result of my natural clumsiness in the workplace.

My commute into work is a prime example. When faced with the treacherous gaps between the tube and the platform, poorly placed traffic cones and bankers with over-sized briefcases, I'm lucky if I make it into the office in one piece.

However, today, I have conquered the assault-course-commute into work without major disaster...the fact that I had to buy a new shirt from Waterloo to replace my coffee covered blouse this morning is irrelevant.

Despite the traumatic commute, I have really missed working at IBM. I've missed working in general, really. You don't get the same camaraderie when writing an essay about Russian Scripts from the eleventh century alone in the library as you do when bidding for a contract in a team.

Unfortunately, none of my colleagues speak Russian. Unless they are kindly putting off my humiliation when it is revealed that I can only say "I made beetroot soup".

Not hugely useful in a business context unless dealing with Slavonic greengrocers.

More to the point, I am beginning to realise that I learn so much more when working with other people. I find it difficult to motivate myself when working independently. In other words, I have a very short attention span and have to be told to get on with stuff instead of incessantly looking at videos of Benedict Cumberbatch on YouTube.

With this in mind, instead of locking myself in the library for hours at a time, staring hopelessly at a Russian Dictionary, maybe I should optimise my studying hours by investing in a Russian pen pal, drinking partner or, better yet, a Russian boyfriend.

Surely then my Russian language skills would go through the roof?

A girl can dream.

I am only three days into the new role but I have already learned so much from the people around me. I am not only discovering a new industry but am beginning to understand how I learn best, knowledge that I can apply to learning Russian and my Cambridge career; an understanding of industry, professional skills and personal development. I am not proposing that I modify my future essay titles to address the digitisation of healthcare systems instead of the cultural landscape of Russia. However, if I put everything that I learn over the next few weeks into practice, maybe the occasions when my Russian supervisor looks at me despairingly will become fewer and further between.

I am really lucky to have the opportunity to work in industry this Christmas. Most students have four to six weeks off at this time of year and I think it would be great if there were more opportunities for young people to get this type of experience. Living and working in the real world, even if it is for a short period of time can come as a welcome relief. It has done me the world of good to get out of the Cambridge bubble. Don't get me wrong, I love Cambridge life. I have met some amazing people, had a wonderful first term and as much as I satirise my experience of learning Russian; it is actually, literally, basically great.

However, there comes a point when you are so intent on meeting an essay deadline that you forget to reflect on what you have achieved, how you work and how you can do better. That is why I decided to return to IBM and regain some perspective, not only about the working world but about me in general. I suppose that I wanted to reassure myself that I can still function as a fully paid up member of the human race outside Murray Edwards College, Cambridge.

Nonetheless, I can confirm that I am finding the lack of tweed, gowns and bikes with baskets slightly unsettling.

Once I have retreated back to the Cambridge bubble and am no longer battling bankers to get to work but bikes to get to lectures, how will I take what I have learned during this placement and apply it to studying French and Russian?

Well, I will probably spend less time in the library and more time in the pub with a White Russian...the drink...or otherwise.