March 15, 2013, by Yvonne Teoh

Life of an Intern – Human Resources

Every year, a Careers Fair is held at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, where dozens of corporations offer internship and job opportunities to the students. In 2012, I dropped off a copy of my resume at the IBM booth, and was fortunate enough to receive a call from them roughly three weeks into the summer. IBM stands for International Business Machines, an American multinational company with a long history and is responsible for many technological inventions, such as the ATM machine, hard disc drive, and bar codes, all of which have become an inseparable part of our life.

IBM has a strict and thorough hiring process that covers all employees from interns to the big bosses – no exceptions. In my case, I was put through tests of mental flexibility, and speed of learning. Then I was asked to attend an interview. Only after succeeding these stages, I find myself reporting for work on the first week of July.

As a Psychology undergraduate, I was selected to intern in the HR department, joining a team of employees which provides recruitment services for IBM Australia and IBM New Zealand. The immediate impression I had upon arrival was how fast paced everything was. I was welcomed like an old friend, and found myself fitting in effortlessly. Everyone was treated equally, from the cleaners up till the bosses. Everyone was simply an IBMer, and it was a beautiful experience to be a part of them.

As I provided services for IBM Australia and New Zealand, much of the meetings, discussions and any other interactions were done using teleconferencing, IBM’s internal employee chat, and the traditional email method. Due to the time difference, every computer in the department had up to four clocks, adjusted to display the time for different regions of the world. That, in itself, was a whole new experience from any other jobs I had in my life. Personally my largest challenge was to familiarize myself with the different accents.

The three months of my internship felt surprisingly short, and through that I now have a greater understanding of what HR does. HR does not only arrange for candidates to complete selected tests, set up interviews, and managing employee’s paychecks, there is so much more that goes on behind-the-scenes. Dozens of applications were filtered for the best candidates, and if there were insufficient applications, possible candidates were searched through external sources, including but not limited to social media sites such as LinkedIn. Once applications were selected, recruiters would run over a dozen different checks to ensure that the candidate is suitable for hire in every aspect. After that there would be an initial phone screening, an invitation for IBM’s internal tests, and if they passed, they would be scheduled for an interview. However, HR’s responsibilities do not end there. Candidates’ workstations and equipment would have to be prepared, and once they begin employment, their salaries and various benefits had to be managed and overlooked.

In summary, my internship at IBM had given me an eye opening experience of not only HR departments, but more importantly an experience of a workplace where people of different countries collaborate, and work cohesively as a single unit, a single department to serve one of the largest corporations in the world. It was a great honor to be an IBMer, and if given the opportunity, I would return to work there in a heartbeat.

Photo Credit: Chia Wei

Photo Credit: Chia Wei

Chan Chai Wei
(Year 3 Student in BSc (Hons) Psychology, UNMC)

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