Today was the first day of my internship. While others usually feel like it's a start to a brand new journey – working in an office for the first time and meeting new colleagues – it was not like that for me, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that left most employees to work-from-home. Despite that, there was still a pinch of excitement in me – the drive to explore new things, to meet new people and learn as much as I could.
Coming into this role as a People and Culture (commonly known as Human Resources) intern, I did not know what to expect. As a psychology undergraduate, my impression of HR was administrative work. In fact, thanks to the education fairs, career websites and majority of people I’ve spoken to over the years I thought it was what psychology undergraduates did if they didn’t want to further their degrees. All I really wanted to learn from this experience was what the role of HR was about and gain corporate experience. Everything else – meeting new people, exploring different departments – that was just a bonus.
As a psychology undergraduate, my impression of HR was 'administrative work'.
The first day was brief yet intense. On top of the onboarding program and a meeting with my supervisor, it so happened to be the monthly All Employee Meeting. Despite the information overload, the healthy work culture in Leaderonomics caught my attention from the very beginning, which assured me it was a safe place to learn.
A week has passed, and I would say that I have been coping well so far. I have been delegated a few tasks, one of them being to create an updated organisational chart. I had to approach many employees and Working Heads to gather information. Being a first-time intern who has barely interacted with working adults, I was clearly not the most effective at this task. However, I was glad as the experience gave me:
- Pointers on how to communicate more effectively with different audiences
- The opportunity to meet the COO personally (on my third day?!! As a first-time intern, that amazed me)
- A head start on forming new relationships compared to other interns
I was also grateful to be able to meet my fellow interns physically on our second day! We visited the office to help run some errands. I am glad we were able to meet then as that definitely boosted our relationships compared to just having countless online meetings.
In just a flash, I’m a month into my internship. I have been coping well and the biggest thing I am grateful for is the dynamics I have with Kwan, my supervisor. Generally, the workload has been manageable but more importantly, I have been able to communicate my struggles (when facing any) to Kwan, who consistently gives me support and advice. I daresay this healthy relationship with my supervisor played a major role in allowing me to be bolder in taking on tasks and challenges. Good communication fueled my confidence as I can be transparent with what I thought I could do more of, or what I felt weak at; and to allow my supervisor to help me progress in the way he saw fit.
I felt like I was not contributing to what was important to the company at that point.
My internship epiphany was also around this point of time. I remember reflecting on tasks I’d done – developing instructional guides for learning and development, crafting simulations for talent assessment, creating an onboarding programme, interview template and more. Other than the internship project, I felt like my tasks had been pretty insignificant to the organisation compared to other interns who were in one way or another involved in the work related to products or services Leaderonomics offers. I felt like I was not contributing to what was important to the company at that point.
However soon after, I realised why I felt that way. It was because I did not realise that my role wasn’t one of sales and products but rather of servicing the employees and employers.
Unlike the other business units that can be compared to the core engines of a vehicle, whom each work separately to achieve certain functions, the People and Culture team is the engine oil that helps all engines work well together. Understanding that enhanced my work experience as my perspective was entirely different. Each time I did a task, I could see the big picture behind it – enabling the company to run smoothly as a whole.
Furthermore, (as obvious it may sound) this internship brought me to see how HR was truly about people. It was more than employee-related tasks, it was being able to empathise with the people, and finding ways to support different parties as best as possible. These are the two main takeaways from my internship on understanding the nature of HR.
This will probably be my last entry as I bid farewell to this internship in 3 weeks. Looking back, the past 8 weeks have challenged me in terms of my capabilities. More importantly, it also questioned my perspective in a few areas:
1. To think about the future of HR
This occurred to me after speaking to a few Leaderonomers. One of them brought up how AI would very soon take over the work of HR, how technology could be more efficient in handling payrolls, recruitment, onboarding programmes,and employee learning and engagement. That conversation got me thinking about what I should invest in now – should I be upskilling myself for things that would be taken over by AI soon after?
However I realise that while many speak about how technology could take over the world, humans cannot be replaced completely. “Technology will replace a majority of work, not the person. Humans will just have to do things differently, those of higher value”, that was a phrase by another Leaderonomer that stuck with me. Digital systems can probably handle administrative work much better than humans, but the core of a healthy and effective workforce still relies on people – who are relational beings, and need each other's love and care.
2. Having ‘to impact others’ as a reason behind your career, wasn’t one that was too naive
I grew up with the culture of always wanting to find purpose and meaning behind what I do. But as I got older, the thought of pursuing passion gradually seemed like a luxury. It felt as though everyone would eventually give up on the thought of finding joy in their career, because hey – money is what gets you to survive.
Having said that, my perspective was challenged after speaking to many Leaderonomers, as well as the CEO. I realised people in Leaderonomics find meaning in what they do, and for some, perhaps Mondays aren’t that blue. I realised that perhaps, wanting to make an impact in the community through your career was actually possible, and it is a reason worth decades of hard work and sweat.
Understanding that Leaderonomics started off with the noble vision of impacting the community and had to reinvent themselves to remain competitive and sustainable brings me slight hope that perhaps venturing into something I find purposeful is worth fighting for. I sure hope that it is something I hold on to in the coming years.
Editor's note: Yea babayyyy
That sums up how Leaderonomics has impacted me - not just gaining more knowledge and work experience, but having my perspectives challenged, and helping me to reframe certain ideas I had. Thank you Leaderonomics, for investing into the lives of the younger generation, and for bringing a slight hope and comfort to my previously somewhat bleak outlook of the corporate world.
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