My Internship Journey – Part 1

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

Jessica Lau, CHRP Candidate

I have recently taken on my first HR job in Canada, an HR internship position with a luxury hotel and resorts. It is great timing to talk about my experience, especially following last month’s World Café topic “When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job” in which I suggested taking on internship as a way to overcome this issue.

It’s been five weeks since I started with this organization and it’s been an amazing experience. I don’t even know how to begin in explaining what makes this experience so amazing; there are so many different reasons. But in particular, the three that really sticks out are the organization itself, the culture, values and people and the ability to learn different aspects of human resources.

Let me begin by talking about the organization itself. This hotel and resorts is amazing, being one of Canada’s top employers. During my 5 weeks at the hotel, I’ve learned some of the reasons why the organization has been given this award. To begin, there are many opportunities given to the employees to grow and develop. The organization really cares about helping their employees grow professionally and gives their employees opportunities to cross-train and move within. This is speaking of not just about giving them opportunities to move within one location but throughout all their hotels and resorts around the world. I have met so many employees that have traveled and worked at various departments and locations within the organization. There are programs to recognize their staff, monthly award ceremonies to show appreciation for their staff’s hard work and social events to help bond their organization. I was even given the opportunity to plan a week of events to show appreciation and thank the employees. The week of events involved the executive teams rolling up their sleeves and serving their employees. I know a lot of organizations try to have recognition and appreciation programs but this organization actually make it a commitment and priority to do these things for their staff.

The second thing I really love about my experience so far is the culture, values and people. The values of the organization have built a very friendly culture where everyone works together as a team and respects each other. The values are also shown through the practices and through the people I’ve met. I almost feel like the organization has hired a team of people who actually breathe and live their values. It must be said that the HR and management team do a very good job in their recruitment and hiring process. When we spend so much time at work each day, it is so important to like and enjoy the culture and people we work with.

The last thing I really enjoy about my internship so far is the experience and the ability to learn about different aspects of HR. As the HR intern, I have been exposed to various aspects within this HR department where I have supported everyone from the HR coordinator, benefits coordinator, health and safety coordinator, recruitment manager, training manager to HR director. the HR team has been very open to teaching me their specific area and helping me learn as much as I can. It has been very exciting learning the various aspects of HR and getting a more hands on approach and experience to the HR department of a big organization. I have been given various supporting tasks, as well as different projects such as creating an employees appreciation week. From this project, I was exposed to and learned how this very big organization function. It was different than what I am used to but I was able to successfully learn, adapt and pulled off the week of events. During this internship so far, not only am I learning about the different aspects of HR but also learning a great deal about a big organization and a lot about myself. I cannot wait to see what is to come in the coming weeks.

Evaluate Leaders Around You; Set Goals for your Future Self

“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I was speaking with a professional in a leadership position recently when this person said, “I don’t believe that email is a tool for communication, so I don’t answer emails.  It’s easier to delete 200 emails than to respond to 50 of them.”  This was shocking to hear because it showed me that this person proudly admits to ignoring client inquiries; it was a demonstration of just how ignorant a leader can be when they are out of touch with those they lead.

I am connected with a number of leaders in the public and private sector.  As someone at the beginning of my career, it’s fascinating to watch those in high positions manage unique situations from the sidelines.  Some actions are inspiring, while others make me question how I could have made the situation more positive if I was in their place.  Would I have had the gumption to ask a few more questions before making a decision?  If the onus of the decision was mine, would I have acted differently?

We posed a Coffee Shop HR World Café topic a few months back asking what entry-level folks can do to gain interviews. Essentially, what can you do at the beginning of your career to get your foot in the door?  Looking at this question in another way, I’ve begun to ask myself what I have learned from the leaders around me, and how can I best hold onto those lessons for the future.

Seeing the struggles and successes of various leaders, these are the attributes I hope to embrace:

1.       Listen and evaluate more than you speak.

Everyone has an anecdote about being in a meeting (often a lengthy meeting) and having zero engagement for the duration.  The speaker is there to deliver a message rather than engage in a conversation, and that’s infuriating because it feels like a waste of time.  When you engage in conversations with employees, hear what they have to tell you, evaluate their position and offer alternatives if they are seeking advice.  Sometimes employees just need you to recognize their point of view.

2.       Respecting staff means being able to communicate with them; know as many names and positions as you can so that you can respond thoughtfully.

I’ve always believed that the key to being a successful leader is being able to communicate.  That statement has become ubiquitous in our world of text messaging, and other forms of photo messaging, but the same is true.  Knowing the names and positions of your employees allows you to connect with them in a more thoughtful way because you can better anticipate how to deliver messages to them.

We all learn in different ways – some people need pictures, some prefer formal documents, while others require a conversation to gather their thoughts.  Recognize that some people respond to information immediately; others need to contemplate what they’ve heard, process the information and then respond.  Just because an employee who takes a lot of meeting notes doesn’t pipe up immediately after you’ve announced news to the group doesn’t mean that person is not engaged.  The opposite may be true.  Because that employee is engaged and has an opinion, he/she would prefer to choose the appropriate language to share with you later on.

3.       Provide alternative solutions each time you want to oppose an idea; own up to your choice of words.

I will always be an agent for change as long as the change supports what’s best for the business, with minimal impact to staff.  But it irritates me to no end when people respond with a resounding “no” without offering alternative solutions.  By offering options, you demonstrate that you understand what management was attempting to improve, have a solid understanding of the business, and can be counted on to support the change in the most positive way.

If you can foresee pitfalls that others can’t, why wouldn’t you communicate that?  While people are outraged and scared, be the source of information that they are seeking.

4.       Embrace technology.

This may sound odd, but remember that leader I mentioned who does not believe that email is a useful communication tool?  I understand this individual’s concerns with misunderstandings caused by tone, but in leadership roles, I believe you must possess a strong service orientation.  If those around you feel comfortable communicating with you via email, be grateful that they are willing to connect in the first place, and respond using the medium they chose.

By receiving an email and saying “I do not believe the use of email is conducive to communication” you are showing those around you that you can only support them on your terms.  Responding using the source that they provided is similar to shifting down to the height of a child when providing direction. 

In the future, who knows what the equivalent of email will be.  I’ve spoken with Gen Y leaders who outwardly say “email is useless, I use Google Docs to communicate with staff en masse, and it’s free.”  So when I’m trying to connect with staff at different levels who communicate using a technology that you can’t see or touch, I hope that I have the gumption to embrace it, and learn to use it well.

5.       Do not take criticism personally; be prepared to defend your work.

This will always be a challenge, and it should be.  The day that you have zero emotional attachment to criticism is the day you completely disengage or suppress your emotion.  But I think it is positive to control the emotions that you show to people.  The most positive thing you can do is respectfully and intelligently defend your work when criticized.  Take ownership and be accountable at all times.

Is There a Right Way to Leave Your Job?

Bonnie Milne, PhD

Bonnie Milne, PhD

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

Oh my gosh – I hope so.

That’s my first reaction to the question. Like most HR people, I’ve been on both ends of resignations – the receiving and the giving. I was always surprised to receive a resignation because the people who were resigning had been very quiet about their plans until they materialized – that is until they were about to relocate or take on a new job.

I am not sure if I, on the other hand, was that discrete. I don’t have a ‘poker’ face so my intentions are usually quite easily read.

It is very difficult to leave a position without another one in hand so it is difficult to give your employer more than the required notice. I have also seen that those who are too open about their intentions are sidelined early. They are slowly, or sometimes quickly, excluded from the decision making process. Their colleagues disengage from them almost as a defense. After all, when you decide to leave an organization, it is the people you are leaving, and they will have an emotional response. While they may be happy for you, they may feel abandoned.

I remember one time when I resigned from a small organization to take on a new position and right after I announced that I was leaving, my colleague, who didn’t have another position to go to, also resigned. It turned out that she was fed up and thought leaving was the logical thing to do.

Unfortunately, although she felt fantastic at the time, it took a while for her to find work.
Something to think about is your letter of resignation which needs to stress the positive aspects of the job you are leaving. Sometimes a humourous resignation letter is in order, but only if you are on good terms with your supervisor!

Nathaniel Koloc, co-founder and CEO of ReWork, cites three reasons to leave your job, which I’ve elaborated on.

1. It just isn’t sustainable –it takes too much time, you don’t get paid enough or you simply hate going to work every day. I had two colleagues, in different organizations, who told me that every day before they could muster up the courage to go into their offices, they sat in their cars and cried. Can you imagine? One of them toughed it out and her boss eventually retired, the other one asked for a move and she is much happier now. Interestingly neither of them resigned.

2. It Isn’t Furthering Your Professional Development – our work should stretch us – not diminish us. We should have opportunities to learn and to expand our professional horizons, build communities of practice and mentor others. If these opportunities are not available, or our salaries don’t allow us to pursue, them then it is time to think about looking for something new.

3. Something Else (Way Better) Comes Along – Hmm – give your head a shake. This one should be a no-brainer, but many of us procrastinate, ‘Oh my resume isn’t quite ready!’ That’s my favorite! We let the opportunity pass by. Really, what is the worst that could happen? Take a chance, submit a gracious letter of resignation and move toward your dream!

Molly Ford has some great ideas for when the time comes for your to tender your resignation. Her advice includes: tell your boss first, and then your colleagues, all in person. Have a transition plan – make sure those loose ends are tied up, and prepare your reason for leaving. Keep it positive, as she notes; your colleagues are staying and there is no reason to make them feel badly about their work place, or, for that matter, about you! Her last piece of advice is to stay in touch.

I have resigned from a number of jobs and amazingly returned to three different organizations after resigning, including the one where I’m currently employed. So I know the value of staying positive and staying in touch. I usually update my former colleagues on my career and depending on how close we are, on my personal life as well. I follow up on their moves and provide encouragement.
I read recently that people have become commodities and we have to treat ourselves as a product. While I find that a very callous way of thinking about myself and my life; I do find that relationships often provide unexpected opportunities and that staying ‘up to date’ and ‘in the loop’ makes a positive difference in my career.

Food for thought, when it is time to tender that resignation!

Welcome Lauren Kress & Sandy Arseneault to Coffee Shop HR

I’m happy to welcome Lauren Kress and Sandy Arseneault to Coffee Shop HR.  Lauren will be posting book reviews and Sandy joins our team of HR Writers.

Lauren KressLauren Kress is a project manager and medical writer in the health services industry by day and a blogger and creative writer by night. She enjoys the challenges that come with combining science, health, marketing, creativity and management together and imagines herself running her own business in the future. In the meantime she has been traveling the world, learning new things and undertaking a Masters in cross-disciplinary Art and Design. After arriving back in her hometown (read: home city) of Sydney, Australia she is very excited to begin taking on more challenges that enable her to explore and develop her skills in business development, management and interpersonal relations. As the creator of http://outofink.org she seeks to uncover more about people and the world around them through sharing interviews, thoughts and creative endeavours that stem from life, travel, music and books.

Sandy Arseneault, CHRPSandy Arseneault is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) with a genuine concern for the ’employee experience’.

Before obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Human Resources Management from Kwantlen University, Sandy graduated from BCIT with a Diploma in Financial Management. She also pursued a Diploma in Business Administration from Douglas College before falling in love with Human Resources.

Early in her career, Sandy worked as a(n) Receptionist, A/R Clerk, Office Manager and Accountant. Now, with 6 years of experience in the construction and manufacturing industry, Sandy is excited to pursue new challenges and industries while working towards future goals including her aspirations of being a highly regarded mentor for other HR Professionals and an inspiration to friends, colleagues and strangers.

Tips for Leaving the Right Way

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

Michelle Yao

Michelle Yao

Most of us have been there, finding the perfect job for you, while still working in your current job. We face the dilemma of what to do. Now there are good and bad ways to leave your job, but the preferred way is always to leave on good, or at least neutral terms. It’s always important that a former employer doesn’t have a bad impression of you. You never know who they know or who they might have a connection to. So in the spirit of leaving a job the right way, I thought I’d share some tips with you.

1.    Don’t let others know before you tell your boss

News travels fast, especially interesting, new news. It’s always professional courtesy to let your supervisor know what is happening first.

2.    Block off time to tell your boss in person

Letting your boss know in person is the most respectful, mature way to approach this matter.

3.    Give appropriate transition time

Two weeks is the general timeline. This gives you time to close off files and hand off projects.

4.    Make a transition binder

Sometimes you may not have time to do this, but leaving your replacement with a binder/guide enables them to understand your roles and responsibilities and shows your former employer that you are trying to proactively ease the transition.

5.    Ask for an exit interview

This will enable both you and your boss to discuss the challenge, successes and opportunities related to your job

While this is not an exhaustive list, it provides a frame when approaching this situation. Remember respect is key, as is courtesy. You want to approach leaving a job with the idea in mind that you should act as you would like others to act in this situation. When in doubt it is also very helpful to consult with a former Manager/Supervisor, or even a career coach, and to discuss any other suggestions/thoughts with them. It is also important to keep in mind that what works for some, may not work for you. So compile your own list of tips and tricks – decide what you are comfortable with when making your decision public.

Do Something That’s Just For You

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I’ve recently discovered a love of yoga.  Roll your eyes all you like – I was skeptical of the practice too!  I live in Vancouver where yoga pants have become synonymous with the image of a local woman, somehow.  I’m one of those people who becomes skeptical when large groups of people fall absolutely in love with one thing.  But after giving it a try, I’ve been converted – I love yoga.

I wasn’t interested in yoga for many years because it didn’t seem that strenuous.  I enjoy pilates, but I envisioned yoga as a less challenging version of pilates.  Boy was I wrong!  Yoga is dynamic, and the best teachers are supportive and reflective.  It’s a wonderful practice, and I will certainly continue.

Last night I attended a really wonderful class.  I’ve been stressed at work, and people are starting to get sick all around me, and so I’ve been avoiding physical activity in exchange for sleep and rest.  But a friend convinced me to attend our yoga class last night, and I’m so glad that I did.

The instructor emphasized that we give away our power in different forms all day.  When people are stressed around us, we mobilize, and we move faster.  When a situation arises, we assess, make plans, and execute.  We’re very giving of our time and energy – particularly in the workplace.  But it’s important to realize that you need to do things that bring you power also.  It’s not about reclaiming your strength – because you should give of yourself freely – but you should put yourself into situations that bring power to you, and you alone.

When you commit to going for a run, taking a yoga class or skiing for a few hours, those moments are meant to bring you joy and freedom.  They’re moments that you create for you alone, and that’s powerful. image

You earn money all day that you ultimately distribute to different parties.  You may deal with situations that affect others more than you.  Certainly each conversation you have at work is an exercise of giving your time away to someone else.  But you need to commit time that can only be spent on yourself – you deserve it.

Before saying goodbye, my class instructor asked us to sit up one more time with our shoulders back.  She joked that she wasn’t asking us to sit with our shoulders back because that’s yoga gospel, but because it’s a reminder of your body’s intrinsic power.  You have chosen to sit with your shoulders back, which lengthens your spine.  You control your body, and every action is a choice.

Make sure that you take some time that’s just for you.  Whether that means physical activity, reading for pleasure, or sitting perfectly still on a park bench and admiring the view, commit to doing something that brings power and strength to you.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

I’ve heard it said that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave Managers. I will agree that a strong relationship with a manager an employee likes and respects goes a long way to staying at a job, but there will be times- and job offers- that compete with a great boss any day. That being said, I think that the employment relationship is like any relationship in life: it takes two sides to make it happen and that respectful, open and honest communication is key. Performance reviews keep employees performing and on track and allow for dialogue about career development and accompanying plans.

If the job the employee is in isn’t satisfying their needs financially, or developmentally, chances are the employees will leave- either way, it shouldn’t be a secret or a surprise.

If your mind is made up, and you have begun interviewing and if you feel it’s fair and appropriate, give your manager a heads up that your worklife isn’t working for you anymore; if you go about this in the right way, perhaps some open dialogue can positively and constructively impact your current role enough that your boss can sway you to stay. If not, at least you’ve been honourable with your boss that things need to change for you. This is a tricky path to walk so again, some circumstances this approach is appropriate and in some it’s not and may very well get you walked out the door! This is also the time that if its appropriate you can ask your current manager to be a reference for your next job- this request is easier if the new opportunity is one that your current Manager cannot offer you. Also, don’t lie about where you have been if you have been out on an interview. Either take a vacation day (or half day) or schedule interviews around your current work schedule. Having 2 doctors appointments the week before you resign screams “I was lying about where I really was…”.

But, to my main point about ‘quitting your job’, do it face to face. Like a breakup, suck it up and be honest. Request an appointment with your manager and tell them that you’ve accepted another opportunity and that you are giving your notice. Make sure you give at least 2 weeks, 3 to 4 weeks if you are supervisory and above, and offer to help create a transition plan for your work and knowledge. Give it in writing to protect your butt and your employers, if you don’t they will likely ask for it down the road. If you want to be a rock star, offer to update your job description or posting (if appropriate) for posting for a replacement, and begin tracking and documenting your work so that whoever replaces you has reference notes.

Be sensitive, tell your co-workers next, then keep a lid on your news until your manager has the opportunity to announce it to the organization. And last but not least, leave on a positive note- continue to work hard, uphold your standards and work ethic and try to take a few days off in between leaving you old job and starting your new job so you are well rested!