Intern stories series-
Client Computing Group: Tijn Tsai
Intern of Operations
Taiwan and Chrome Engineering│Client Customer Engineering│Client Computing Group
I am Tijn, an intern of operations at Intel’s Client Computing Group. At the same time, this year is the fourth year of my master’s program at the Department of Psychology, National Chengchi University. Different from other interns, I was rehired by Intel as an intern after leaving the company for one year, and this probably why I am spending much longer time at graduate school.
I first joined Intel’s Mobile and Communication Group at the beginning of 2014. I was on the tablet device team with four other interns of operations, and was lucky enough to work with my direct boss — a great leader always willing to grow employees – and to acquaint myself with many coworkers who were highly motivated, optimistic, outspoken, self-disciplined, and earnest about whatever they do. They were the reason for me to look forward to going to work every day in the sixteen months of my first internship at Intel.
I often share with my juniors at school about the difference between interns and part-timers. The difference lies in how a company positions the two. Interns are intended to gain a hands-on experience in real-world business practices, while part-timers can be compared to disposable tableware. Intel is a good company to treat us as real interns. At Intel, there are many different opportunities for learnings and growth, while interns have clearly defined duties and obligations and are also empowered to participate in decision-making. We are not only expected to dutifully complete our assignments but also expected to exceed expectations. Intel is a place where interns can effectively benefit from training and growth.
As an intern of operations, I have often been asked about “what do you guys exactly do there?” Scratching my head, I could never find a proper answer to such a question and could only say “operations are intended to assess and allocate departmental resources and ensure smooth operation of the whole organization including capital and human resource budget control, logistics and supply chain management, workflow improvement, quality control and audit, blah blah blah.” However, when I felt too tired to elaborate on what I do, I would simply answer with tongue in cheek that “I do arithmetic and pour tea for others all the time.” In fact, I was lucky to join operations as my first unit at Intel. I was often cold-shouldered for being a busybody as required by work, but this helped me get a whole picture of the company as well as the rationales behand many polices because I had to listen to different teams and had their needs and wants integrated.
I was very grateful to Sylvia, my direct boss during my first internship at Intel. With her high self-expectation and leadership by example, Sylvia was always constructive and willing to trust interns to try their ideas. Several things I learnt from her include 1) Don’t be reactive. Be proactive. I should think of what others do not think of to take the initiative to offer solutions and implement them instead of waiting for instructions from others; 2) Enable others to work. I need to learn how to work with others and, more importantly, make others willing to work with me too; and 3) Don’t be a messenger. Be a problem solver. At the beginning of my first internship at Intel, I was exactly a messenger who thought the job was done after passing on the words from A to B. However, in order to solve a problem, I should have provided a feasible next step to B. What I learnt from Sylvia effectively changed the way I work and I do consider her a mentor in my life. In addition to Sylvia, my peer interns were helpful and trustworthy role models to me, prompting me to pursue ongoing self-improvement. I think they will always be my trustworthy support in my future career. I was really grateful to the opportunities provided by Intel.
Despite my great time during my first internship at Intel, I left the company before my internship ended in order to become an exchange student abroad for one year to experience different cultures and become more culturally sensitive. The decision was made because of my incessant conflicts with a human resource specialist at Intel Malaysia when working with the Malaysian branch; cooperation with foreign branches is common place at Intel. The conflicts resulted from our lack of understanding of the education system differences in each other’s country. I did not know there is no summer break in Malaysia and my Malaysian counterpart could not understand what a summer break is. The communication between us based only on each other’s limited knowledge incurred incessant conflicts and made me aware of the importance of understanding cultural differences. Being an exchange student in Norway for one year, I had the opportunity to visit more than sixty European cities, and now I can look at things from different perspectives factoring cultural and other influences. Thinking beyond my personal factors and the situation I am in, I am a flexible thinker and decision maker now.
Upon returning to the big family of Intel, I could not but feel sad and stunned after knowing several organizational changes and industry policy shifts when I was away, but I know those unpleasant changes had to be made in order to strengthen viability and competitiveness. During the past six months of my second internship at Intel, I witnessed a more mature system, further improved management, a clearer division of labor, and streamlined communication between different departments. Certain things I was familiar with remain unchanged, e.g., the core value of Intel, corporate social responsibility commitment, and related employee volunteerism, which all reminded me of what an old boy joked with us that “your first job at Intel would make it hard for you to adapt yourself to any other company.” This is probably why I do not want leave Intel.
P.S. The company forbids photography of whatever is related to work, and the photos of happy interns together does not mean we play at work; it means we abide by a company regulation of work-life balance.
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