Nowadays, most of the job postings we see include “oral and written communication skills” as part of the criteria for job selection. My first Co-op placement at Sepro Mineral Systems mentioned that a candidate should have oral and written communication skills. I thought this meant that a candidate’s English spelling and grammar should be near perfect, in which the candidate typically gets A’s in English courses and has experience in case competitions and public speaking. However, throughout my 8-month Co-op experience with Sepro, I learned that there is more to communication skills than just being fluent in English and being on par with my grammar.
Sepro is one of the world’s largest suppliers of mineral technology, in which they have been the supply of mineral processing equipment, metallurgical testing and process consulting. They are committed to providing innovative solutions to meet customer needs, they connect with other businesses to be creative with and improve their research and production. In my perspective, this means communication is one of their key characteristics to maintain and strengthen their business.
As an Events and Marketing Coordinator, some of my responsibilities included sourcing internal information for use in promotional materials and coordinating with vendors and coworkers globally when planning for events. In case you have not noticed, all these responsibilities share the same requirement: communication.
Sourcing information for use in promotional items usually occurs in two situations: our marketing team either wants a new promotional product to giveaway or we want to reorder more Sepro-branded promotional items. For example, I was given the task of re-ordering our company golf shirts, but with a different logo embroidered. To accomplish this task, I had to contact the vendor that supplied our previous golf shirts to inquire about the cost of ordering 36 new shirts and to request a new logo embroidery on each shirt. For weeks, the vendor and I emailed each other back and forth, to make sure that the colour of the shirt and the embroidered logo are accurate and reflect our company branding.
Most of my tasks are associated with event planning, especially for conferences and Trade shows that Sepro sends their sales staff to as delegates and exhibitors. Each event has its checklist, from which I work. In each event, I need to know who is attending so that I can get them registered, reserve hotel rooms and ask which promotional materials they want me to pack. It is very important to keep in contact with the show delegates so that I can send them emails of instructions, updates, and information regarding the events they are attending. For instance, this past month I had been in contact with one of the sales employees, who is the show lead for an upcoming conference. We had been in contact through email, but I frequently visit his office to follow-up on his approvals for my proposed packing lists and booth layouts.
With all these tasks that I needed to accomplish, I realized that as much as I wanted to pay attention to my grammar and spelling structure, getting my tasks done on time was important too. To complete my assignments and meet deadlines, I had to constantly email, make phone calls, and visit offices. Not only that, each email, phone call and visit required as many questions on my end, as it did information to give to make sure each stakeholder involved knew what is going on.
It might seem like over-communication, but often, informative emails and frequent phone calls were the main ways I could get my job done. In fact, these are great opportunities to build relationships with stakeholders. My supervisor shared that “communication is a strategy action to receive what you expect to accomplish.” I will not be able to get my tasks done if I did not approach my coworkers through email or a phone call to confirm whether they are attending an event or not, if they approve of the packing list I sent them, or where they want their packages shipped. I do not think I could accomplish my assignments well if I did not ask my supervisor and coworker for questions, clarification, confirmation, and feedback.
I am not disregarding grammar and spelling structure at all. I think they are both very important so that it’s easier for others to understand what is communicated. In my perspective, grammar and spelling represent the “cherry-on-top” when writing an email and making a phone call. What I learned from my Co-op experience at Sepro is to be more informative and curious and build relationships with stakeholders. When communicating with others, describe the situation or the problem, share your understanding of the situation, make your requests known, and be open to what they think.
Beyond the Blog
- Tiffany's article, Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude, describes finding value in your internships
- Feeling overwhelmed at a large organization? Read how Jenny Found her Fit Among Thousands