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My goal when I first started at Ericsson was to learn what it is like to work in an HR position. I had learned HR functions from classes and I liked what I learned, so I wanted to ‘feel’ it through my co-op placement. To my surprise it turned out that I learned much more than this.  

I completed three co-op terms at Ericsson starting in spring 2014, and I am currently continuing my role as a part-time employee as I finish off my last semester. I feel fortunate to have worked with one employer for an extended period. Although I could have chosen to do multiple co-op placements, I have no regret staying with one employer because there are many benefits to a long-term placement.  There are benefits for both employer and employee: the whole process of getting to know each other better, understanding what the other’s need is for a long term and being able to accommodate that comes with trust and commitment.  Moreover, there is time to continuously seek for ways to improve. Here are things I learned from this co-op placement.

Embrace uncertainty: expect the unexpected and push forward

Over the last year, my work has been very dynamic with events and projects, some of which I did not foresee myself working on when I accepted the job offer. For example, there was massive hiring throughout the year that resulted in a new onboarding procedure and recruiting strategy coordinated by multiple sites across North America.  There was also a change of a site leader which meant the change of my manager and to the University Day preparation and execution. The University Day, which is initiated by the Vancouver site, is now an annual event that invites around 50 undergraduate computing science students from local universities to our site to share Ericsson’s vision with them.  These are only a couple of examples, as there were many others that were quite impactful. After all of this, I learned that there are always uncertainties as to how successful the work will turn out as well as unexpected changes that play their roles on the way. I found that gathering as much information as I can, setting out a detailed plan, and reviewing the work from different perspectives are helpful strategies when working with uncertainty. Also, adapting to unexpected changes as soon as possible with minimum noise is the most efficient way to handle it. Lastly, having constant communication with a team for information sharing and feedback helps to stay in control of a project. 

Seek opportunity instead of limiting your thoughts

I sometimes found myself stuck thinking, “Because it worked this way last time, I will do it the same way again.” However, I realized that work cannot be done perfectly and there is always room to improve or spice things up. Improvement may include shortened process time, more efficient communication methods, or implementing an expert’s opinion that I would have not known if I did not bother to ask.

I believe in the saying “knock and the door will be opened to you.” When I wanted to learn more about or get involved with the Women in Leadership or the employee wellness program, for example, I reached out to people in charge or stakeholders and asked if there was anything I could do to help or, if not, if I could just attend the meeting for educational purposes. I also searched for online and offline resources that could provide insights on topics of interest. This initiative created an opportunity for me to gain more exposure to my areas of interest areas, which in return benefited my employer as  I applied my learning to advance my work. If I ask, I may get it, but if I do not ask, I will not even have a chance.

What I learned about myself

I learned I like being able to combine working on my own and working with a team: I enjoy having the ability to work autonomously, but find being able to bounce ideas off others and see different perspectives to be helpful and refreshing. I also learned that the culture of a corporation has a big impact­­­ on how things are done in a company. Ericsson is a company based out of Europe and in my opinion I feel that the culture is consensus based, which focuses on mutual agreement in making decisions. I must say I enjoy working in this type of culture as I feel it’s positive and motivating.

What makes me "tick" and what makes me happy in the workplace

Working at a company with a large number of employees comes with more stimulation, as there is a large variety of projects to be developed and a different culture to be exposed to. Getting to know the people I work with is exciting to me. It is like opening doors that all lead to improved communication and team cohesiveness. It helps me understand where each person is coming from, and at times it provides me insights of the general consensus of projects I’m working on. I therefore have a better idea to align what I am trying to do with what actually helps employees. As my role is to serve other employees it is vital to understand what they want and do not want.

It makes me excited when I know my work can affect the company and people I work for. If I know I can make a positive impact that helps them in any way, it puts me on the go.

What’s next in line?

My goal now is to build a solid ground for the projects I’m working on so that they become sustainable and easy to manage. As for the next steps in my career, I’d like to build up more industry experience, improve on strategizing skills and gain a better understanding of various areas such as employment law, benefits, and rewards.

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Bomee Hwang is a Business student and just completed three co-op terms at Ericsson where she worked in the Human Resources Department.  She shares her thoughtful observations about Human Resources in her co-op reflection.