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Headshot of Jenny Lian

Jenny Lian

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Management Information Systems

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Jenny Lian
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Jenny Lian
People are generally eager to get to know you as a new member of the team and whether it’s initiating small talk before meetings or asking a co-worker out for lunch, taking the time and effort to get to know your team will make your co-op experience more enjoyable!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when starting any new job, especially if it’s at a large and established company. As one of Canada’s biggest banks with over 86,000 employees, RBC is no small firm. When I first started, navigating the company’s large organizational hierarchy was confusing to put it mildly. When I applied for a co-op position at RBC, I really had no idea which team or line of business I would be joining; only that it would be in a business analyst capacity. When I was offered a position on their Strategic Initiatives and Change Management team in Toronto, I was both excited and slightly confused about my role and responsibilities.

After moving out east, I was able to gather my geographic bearings, but it was still ambiguous where I belonged organizationally with RBC. You can read more about how I managed my relocation to Toronto here. Now looking back at my 8-month co-op at RBC, I want to share my top insights learned that helped me fully integrate and find my fit within such a large company.

1. Take the Time to Understand the Organizational Structure.

My first week included quite a bit of time getting to know the organizational structure of RBC. For example, there are 5 business segments (Investor & Treasury Services, Capital Markets, P&CB, Wealth Management and Insurance) with Technology and Operations providing support for them all. My team falls under the P&CB (Personal and Commercial Banking) business segment and our role is to implement and project manage new initiatives that will help streamline processes for the finance side of the business. Understanding the role my team plays and who the key stakeholders are, was very beneficial to me as it clarified objectives and gave me a clear sense of purpose. When being introduced to new people across the company, understanding my team’s goals and objectives also helped me make the connection between their position to the organizational map I had in my mind, which aided in networking and remembering everyone’s teams. This can apply to any organization, not just at RBC and I recommend anyone starting out at a new company to take the initiative to actively work to understand how an organization functions. By asking questions, doing research, and attending any onboarding activities such as new employee orientations will provide a great starting point to finding your fit in the company.

2. A Big Company Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Be Able to Connect and Build Strong Ties With Your Team.

Although RBC has thousands of employees, I worked closely with a small team of 10 who made me feel welcome right away. We weren’t just coworkers, but also friends outside the workplace. Our team culture felt more like a small start-up than that of a large bureaucratic organization. Team lunches and events built rapport amongst us – we even started a Friday McDonald’s lunch tradition after I joined! Even with the unfortunate situation of Covid-19 forcing all of us to work from home, I felt closer than ever with my team through our daily check-ins, emails, shared stories, and even memes. We also started a weekly themed photo challenge where everyone took a picture and put it all together into a collage. Despite RBC being a large company, I was able to bond with my team by being proactive in engaging with my coworkers. People are generally eager to get to know you as a new member of the team and whether it’s initiating small talk before meetings or asking a co-worker out for lunch, taking the time and effort to get to know your team will make your co-op experience more enjoyable!

One of the many team pics and collages we made while working from home.
3. A Large Company Allows You to Leverage the Connections Available and Explore Other Areas of the Business.

Although I was part of a small and tight team, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t able to reach out and connect with other business segments. One of the great things about working for a large company is that there’s bound to be opportunities to connect with professionals in roles and other areas of business in which you’re interested in learning more about . For example, I volunteered for an RBC sponsored event where I met a Marketing Director for Wealth Management who was on the same shift as me. I was able to talk and ask her questions about her career and the role of marketing at RBC. This was very insightful, considering that marketing is one of my concentrations and I was interested in opportunities in that area. By becoming involved, I was able to create this connection that I otherwise would not have. I highly suggest signing up for as many events and activities as possible and to not be afraid to reach out and leverage your network to set up coffee chats.

These three insights helped me thrive at RBC and I came out at the end of my co-op knowing exactly where I fitted and contributed to in such a large company. This enabled me to create and be proud of the value I made during my time there and I left with lasting connections.

About the Author

Headshot of Jenny Lian

Jenny Lian

SFU Co-op Student
Beedie School of Business › Management Information Systems
Jenny is a 5th year BBA student concentrating in Marketing and Management Information Systems. During her time at SFU she has been heavily involved in Enactus SFU, CaseIT, and has participated in case competitions such as JDC West. Prior to moving to Toronto for an 8-month co-op at RBC as a Business Analyst, she previously worked at Transport Canada and studied abroad in Vienna, Austria.

You can connect with Jenny on LinkedIn.
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