Yi Heng Chen

Business / Accounting

Intern at Human Resources Division

Yi Heng is a Singaporean studying at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). He is pursuing a double degree in Accounting and Business, specializing in Human Resources for the latter. Yi Heng interned with us at our Global Human Resources Office for 10 weeks.

Why did you want to intern in Sumitomo Electric?

I chose to intern at Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) for three reasons. Firstly, SEI is a globally renowned Japanese company with a long history of success. Even though I did not know much about the company at first, I had heard of the brand name before. Furthermore, upon further research on the company website, I came to realize what a big company (in terms of manpower, net sales and profits etc.) SEI was. When I told my parents that I had applied for this company to intern in Japan, they were thrilled because they too knew of the successes of SEI. Secondly, I am an adventurous person. Ever since I was young, I have always like venturing out of Singapore and my comfort zone. Usually, I am contented with being just a tourist in foreign countries. This time however, I get to work and fully experience what it is like living in Japan. For an adventurous person like me, it was a big draw to apply for this internship. Lastly, it was because of my interest in Japan. When I was younger, I took Japanese as a third language for one and a half year. Due to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, an exchange trip to Japan which I was selected to go for, was cancelled. However, I am glad that after almost a decade, the opportunity came again for me. This time, I was determined to make it to Japan.

What did you do during the internship?

During my tenure in SEI, I interned in the Global Human Resources Planning Group. During this internship, I focused on two main projects and other side projects. My first main project was to come up with a proposal to redesign the company website. SEI is a big company with many subsidiaries overseas. Currently, we are aiming to standardize the various HR practices in all the group companies. This helps to ensure better global mobility and fairness in progression. Complementing the Global HR Documents, the careers website redesign will help ensure that updated, relevant and standardised versions of information will be presented to potential job seekers not just from Japan, but all around the world. My second main project was competency development and mapping. In today’s world, talent is mobile. Without development opportunities, talents would leave the organization. SEI makes use of a lot of rotations for their talents to train and develop into leaders. Using solely a performance-based system to assess an employee is not sufficient. For example, a HR recruiter is judged based on his or her ability to generate successful hires. If he or she is transferred to be a Marketing Manager, these performances would not mean anything. However, if we use competencies such as Persuasion, Communication and Ability to sell, the link becomes obvious. During my 10 weeks, I could only do a pilot test with my own group to kick start the use of competencies for performance review purposes.

What has been the most interesting thing you have learnt from this internship?

The most interesting thing I have learned is how Japanese culture permeates every aspect of work in Japan. The heavy emphasis on team work and consensus building helps to ensure that projects can move ahead smoothly with everyone onboard and fully dedicated. While many things I have learned in school leans towards best practices by western standards, it is interesting knowing that in Japan, there is a need to adjust such practices to amalgamate the best of both worlds.

How has the internship help shaped your career?

The internship has given me a more global perspective towards HR. While I had previous experiences working in similar functions, it was vastly different in Japan because of the difference in culture. This internship has made me realize that I like the challenge of working in a different place and different culture. If I could in the future, I would like to either work in a company that allows me the opportunity to travel overseas frequently for business trips, or to find a job outside of Singapore. It may be terrifying but as we all say nowadays, You Only Live Once! YOLO!

What advice do you have for future students considering to participate in this internship?

Think no further because YOLO! Whatever considerations you may have, chances like this internship do not come easily. The company takes care of all the proceedings from before the internship to during and even after the internship. Everything is settled fast and fuss-free, you only need to pack it up and go. Embrace the challenge and cherish the opportunity, because we will only have more things to consider as we grow older. Apart from learning a lot, you can even make a global network of not just acquaintances, but also, if you are lucky, global friendships that might last a lifetime. If you are reading this, you are probably 50% sure you want to try for this internship. Well think no further because a wiseman once said to me when I was a young and foolish high schooler: CARPE DIEM AND YOLO.