That environment has helped me to fit in more easily and to feel as an equal member of the team very quickly.

Jelena Popovic Markopoulos works in the Commission for the Protection of Competition of the Republic of Serbia and is currently doing her doctorate studies on the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade. Jelena was an intern in the British Commission for the Protection of Competition in London for six weeks thanks to our Professional Development in the UK 2013/2014 programme. We organise this programme in partnership with the Republic of Serbia European Integration Office and with support from the British embassy in Belgrade.

Jelena told us her impressions after working in London for a few weeks.

Institution that I work for is independent organisation and it is in charge of the protection of competition i.e. the promotion of a competitive market environment for the good of the consumers, the business community and the economy as a whole. The area that it’s in charge of is one of the most important aspects in the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU. The regulation of this area is really important not only for Serbian companies, that are in for a difficult competition once we join the EU, but also for creating fertile ground in the legislative sense so that foreign investors can work under the same rules that they are used to.

What were your first impressions when you walked in a British institution for the first time?

The first impression is that everything functions perfectly. You know who is in charge of what at every moment. If it’s a procedure there is a very clear path, there are instructions for every possible kind of procedure being done, for every imaginable situation. The channels of communication are really clear, both inside the team and with third parties; you know exactly who is communicating with whom and about what.

The second impression is the cultural diversity of the environment, even at work. In the office I sit next to an Italian and across from a Spaniard. I really liked the international surrounding; I didn’t expect that although I knew that English people were the minority in London (laughter), and this surpassed all my expectations. Of course everyone at work speaks English, but far from it that everyone has to have a high level of knowledge. That environment has helped me fit in more easily and to feel as an equal member of the team very quickly.

How does your job here look like?

I work in a team of economists and from the very beginning I was given a supervisor with whom I spoke about what interests me, what I could learn etc… He let me identify what interests me the most and what will be useful for me back in Belgrade so that I could use my time here most productively.

Another big convenience that arises from working for a big institution, such as this one, is great opportunities for personal development in the form of seminars that are being organised in the Commission, but there are also many educational opportunities outside the institution. Even though I’ll be here only for a couple of weeks I am completely included into all the programmes – there are always some opportunities for development, we are constantly learning about new theoretical models that allow the employees to re-evaluate their attitudes, learn something new…

How much opportunity did you have to get acquainted with the city?

London is a great city. I’ve been here twice and I can’t really say that I was immediately thrilled by the city back then, but I think that after a few weeks I am slowly falling in love with London. I think it will be really hard to go back home (laughter). It’s just a city that offers everything, and all things function perfectly here. I like the whole environment, with a lot of foreigners, because it suits me the most.