Sophia Lee

Psychology and East Asian Studies

Intern at Human Resources Department 

Sophia is studying Psychology and East Asian Studies at Yale University. She worked in Human Resources Department at Sumitomo Electric U.S.A. Holdings, Inc, as an intern for 7 weeks.

Why did you want to intern at Sumitomo Electric?
I've always been searching for a way to mesh my interests in interpersonal or social work and my love for East Asian culture. Having self-studied Japanese quite fervently, I was hoping to find opportunities to study or work in Japan, so I could experience Japanese culture and further my Japanese fluency. At the same time, however, I was craving for work experience and was interested in human resources but was struggling to find a place to plant my roots and begin learning. As a result, when I found the opportunity to work as a HR Intern with Sumitomo Electric U.S.A. Holdings, Inc. (SEUHO) I was extremely excited to apply. I was all the more impressed and inclined to apply upon reading about the Sumitomo Spirit. I knew that I wouldn't regret joining such an upright and caring company.  

What has been the most interesting thing you have learnt from this internship?
I have truly learned so much during my time with SEUHO that it's hard to pick out one interesting thing. All of the aspects of Japanese company culture that I learned here no doubt piqued my interest, but, if I had to pick one thing that surprised me, I would say the work to people ratio.

I entered this role not knowing much about HR, but, from my time at SEUHO, I have come to realize that the field of human resources encompasses much more than I could have ever imagined. As a result, when I first heard that HR departments at other locations sometimes only have one or two employees, you could say I was quite shocked. Granted, not every HR department does all of the things that SEUHO HR handles. Nonetheless, learning about all of the different things our small team handles was truly amazing and definitely motivated me to work harder and aspire to be someone capable of this kind of work in the future.

Sophia 2

What was a typical workday like for an intern at SEG?
At SEUHO, a typical workday started off with a one-on-one meeting with my direct supervisor, Pavee, where we would go through questions or comments regarding work from the day before and work for the day of the call. Depending on his availability, Pavee would also teach me about the various facets of HR such as recruitment, off-boarding procedures, budgeting, and more. After our call, I would spend the morning working on other projects, sending emails, drafting documents, creating PowerPoint presentations, and in the afternoon I would meet with the relevant project leads to review my progress. Around lunch time, I would have my daily call with Japanese expatriate, Muratomi-san, and converse in Japanese while learning more about Japanese company culture and discussing projects he could use my support on. Throughout the day, I would also have workshops, webinars, meetings, and/or interviews that I would also attend and participate in.

How has the internship help shaped your career?
Interning at SEUHO was honestly the best the thing that could have happened to me this summer. I now not only have a substantial amount of real work experience in HR, but I also have a greater amount of exposure to a mix of Japanese and American work culture. Furthermore, the projects I worked on were of amazing breadth, so I was able to dabble in multiple areas of HR all at once. I have learned what I like and dislike, what I'm good at and what I still need to work on, and, most importantly, how I best work in collaboration with others. With these experiences under my belt, I feel much more confident about pursuing my future career aspirations.

Sophia 10

What advice do you have for future students considering to participate in this internship?
Ask and you will receive! In the words of one of the many of the kind mentors I had during my internship, don't be afraid to open new doors and try new things! This internship is truly a gem for those interested in HR and also has the plus of exposure to Japanese work culture for those interested in working in Japan in the future.

What do you most appreciate about Sumitomo Electric?
I most appreciated the people who work here. They were all so welcoming and kind, and they pushed me to be a harder-working, better person. The team was actively checking with me to make sure my internship was going well and that they were offering valuable experiences to me. I felt well looked after, supported, and challenged to grow and mature during this short but meaningful 7 weeks.

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