Si Chen is an international accounting student in her third year of the Bachelor of Commerce program. Though majoring in accounting, Si found a different, unrelated opportunity for her second co-op work term: a human resources position with Cabot Links Golf Course, in Inverness, Nova Scotia. Despite living in a rural community, being an international student, and being employed in field outside her major, Si had a co-op experience that resulted in fast professional growth.
Before her first day, Si researched the company, to develop an understanding of what the company does and how it operates. As a result, she feels that she was better able to“easily identify the employees from different departmental and operational branches.” By entering her co-op term with an open mind and research in hand, Si was able to learn fast and learn a lot.
Strong verbal communication skills and confidence are what Si recommends for any international student looking for a Canadian co-op, “be open-hearted, be modest, and be professional.”
In addition, Si offers five tips for working in human resources:
- “Never make assumptions. Every employee’s situation is different. You need to adjust your process for everyone because of their own (unique) situation
- Never make exceptions. If you do it once, you will do it every time.
- Have a clear understanding about confidentiality. In such a small town, news can spread fast, and so does gossip. As an HR professional, make sure you never say anything you should not.
- Don’t make promises if you are not sure you can keep them, and don’t point fingers to another department. Never say “XXX department should not do this”, or “How could your manager do this?” It is okay to feel sorry for someone if something bad happened but as an HR professional, never blame others.
- Try your best to remember faces and names, especially for seasonal employees. That is the best way to show your care and respect.”
Because of the difference in responsibilities between accounting and human resources, Si learned that “HR is an important part in a company. They are dealing with all the business that is not related to operations. HR is a customer service job for me, the only difference is my customer is the employee inside the company. Completing an HR co-op gives me a clear understanding about what is the reasonable wage for a new graduate, how the promotion process works, and what the best way to get employee benefits.”
On living in rural Nova Scotia, Si ranks the experience an 8 out of 10. “People are nice and helpful. The small community here makes me feel like they are just a big family. Everyone takes care of others. Before I came, I felt like I was going to have a hard time here. I don’t have a car with me and need to find a place to live for four months within walking distance. But after I got here, everything was solved so easily. A local couple offered me their house to stay. They even send and pick me up from work everyday. I cannot express my appreciation to them. They always talk with me and make sure I am comfortable. The only thing I mind about living in a small community is that there are limited options for places to shop and buy food.”
Want to learn more about careers and opportunities in human resources? Access our Managing People & Organizations industry factsheet under the resources section of myCareer under Management Career Services.