A Day in the Office

Author: Randi McQueen

After working for over 2 weeks at ARCAS Paris, I have started to get accustomed to the real world, working full time and living on my own. Since I am in such a beautiful city, I am trying my best not to get too used to a strict routine. It is so important to me that I make time to explore Paris, try new cafes, and see new things whenever I get the chance.

Here is a summary of my 'typical' working day at ARCAS.

8:00 am: Wake Up Time

After trying my best to only hit the snooze button once or twice, I make my way out of bed. After getting ready, I head to the kitchen to make breakfast. Typically I’ll have an egg with a piece of toast topped with my favorite French jam, Confiture Bonne Maman, Fraises et Framboises (strawberry and raspberry). After triple checking that I have the apartment key, I head out.


Pantheon Paris

9:10 am: Commute

From my apartment in the 5th Arrondissement, I walk past Le Panthéon to the RER Line B, Luxembourg. But before getting on, I make sure to pick up a café crème to go at the coffeeshop. Coffee has been a morning ritual for me since studying in Rome last year.

Although I get off at the first stop following Luxembourg, called Port Royal, this still saves me a few minutes, so it is especially helpful taking the metro in the rain. Afterwards, it is only another 5 minute walk to the office on Rue Boissonade in Montparnasse.


9:30 am (ish): On the Clock, sort of

Work officially begins! One thing I already love about the office is that this “9:30” start time is not strictly enforced. Everyone gets to the office around this time, usually no later than 10:00. Although I always aim to make it to work by then, this leniency allows for occurrances out of our control, such as public transportation strikes and delays.

During the mornings, I typically get right to work on whatever project I am in the midst of already. I spend the most time sketching perspectival drawings and renderings based off of plans and elevations designed by my superiors. Sometimes this can be a difficult task because essentially, my job is to create a colorful, picturesque vignette that will hopefully convince a client or the judge in design competitions.


1:00 pm: Dejeuner

For lunch, the other interns and I often pick up a sandwich or a quiche from one of many neighboring boulangeries. My favorite lunch includes a ham and cheese panini “Parisian style,” with butter, with an apple and a chausson aux pommes for dessert (a pastry with apple filling).


We eat at the Luxembourg Gardens, just a short walk away, with our coworkers whenever it is not raining. It is great practice sitting with native French speakers, and we try our best to communicate with them. At the same time, they also enjoy practicing English with us as well.

2:00 pm: Back to Work

Time to re-caffeinate for the second half of the day! During the afternoon, I typically continue whatever project I am working on in the morning. My favorite thing to do is render my perspective drawings with watercolor. Matt, my boss (and Notre Dame alumni connection) is an excellent painter. I have already learned so many techniques to improve my own renderings from him.

Throughout the day, I turn to Maurice, Matt, and whoever’s project I am working on for guidance and approval to continue. Everyone is always friendly and eager to help us out.


Arcas Interns

6:30 pm: Time’s up!

After work, I usually have to pick up at least one thing at the grocery store: Monoprix. Unlike in America, most people here do not have cars to haul hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, so they are limited to buying what they can carry. This method also ensures food is always fresh!

When I make it to my apartment, I usually unwind and watch some Netflix to relax after a long day.


8:00 pm: Dinner

Since we eat lunch later in the day, I typically eat dinner later in the evening as well. I try to actually cook, but oftentimes I just make a sandwich or throw a frozen pizza in the toaster oven. I am taking these grown-up things, such as dinner preparation, one-step at a time.


Paris Sunset

9:30 pm: Explore

My favorite time to stroll through the streets of Paris is at sunset. Because it is so far north, the sun doesn’t fully set until around 10:30 at night. I’ve learned that the unpredictable Parisian weather makes for picture perfect sunsets. Even if it pours all day, the rain stops and the clouds begin to clear just in time to paint a pastel sunset as a sort of grand finale to the day.


11:00 pm: Adult chores

It’s important to me that my apartment stays orderly, and there is nothing worse than waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes. Therefore, I do some quick cleaning and straightening up before getting ready for bed. I’ve learned that things don’t just clean themselves when you live alone! 


12:30 am: Bed

Time to recharge for the next adventure tomorrow!