Where Are They Now?

To date, Peoplecorp have placed 100 students in HR Internship roles with various organisations and we continue to thrive on promoting young talents and helping them grow in their field. We are pleased to track down three of our original HR Interns and have them share their journey from HR Internship to HR professionals.

JIALE ZHANG, Group Manager – HR Projects & Operations, Asia Pacific & Brazil at Avanade

1) Please tell us a little bit about your career journey from HR Internship to where you are now.
I started at Avanade over 7.5 years ago as an intern helping with general administrative tasks for the HR team. Since then, I’ve been involved in all areas of HR from recruitment to running a graduate program, and as a Business HR generalist supporting the business. In 2015, I got a newly formed role of HR Programs and Operations for APAC and Brazil and am now the Group Manager of HR Programs and Operations for Avanade Growth Markets.

2) What has been your toughest career challenge to date?
I have had a few tough ones but I’ve been fortunate enough to have a manager who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. This forced me to learn and grow. My toughest career challenge has been leading an acquisition of a small digital agency in Melbourne. Having no acquisition experience, I had to learn quickly how to lead due diligence and post-merger integration. Having a growth mindset allowed me to overcome this and see every challenge as an opportunity. I’m about to embark on another new challenge with Avanade in that I’m relocating to Singapore!

3) If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your “recently graduated” self?
Always be curious and approach every day with a growth mindset. Being an intern and going into the corporate world can be scary and difficult, however, having this growth mindset will help you see every challenge as an opportunity. It is the best and quickest way to grow to your fullest potential.

4) What are your top tips for students looking to embark on a career in HR?

  • Have a genuine interest in understanding the business (how it operates, the market, the competitors). The aim should be for HR to help run the business rather than merely ‘support’ the business.
  • Understand and pay attention to all relationships and company politics within an organisation. Work hard, but also work smart. Assess which people can help you achieve your goals and objectives. I recommend reading “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie, to help understand how to influence effectively, navigate relationships and gain a competitive edge at work.

MELISSA PLATTEN, Reward and Operations Manager at Resolution Life Australasia

1) Please tell us a little bit about your career journey from HR Internship to where you are now.
After completing my internship with FOXTEL through the help of Peoplecorp, I’ve held roles across a number of industries within ASX listed companies including: agriculture, diversified financial services and life insurance. My experience ranges from process improvement, operations, HR systems implementation, analytics, performance & reward, transformation, merger & acquisition activity plus divestment and separation. I’m currently the Reward and Operations Manager for Resolution Life Australasia.

2) What has been your toughest career challenge to date?
Constantly being pushed outside my comfort zone. Leaving a permanent role for a fixed-term project provided no guarantees at the time, but lots of learnings and experiences. It turned out to be one of my favourite roles and I was ultimately offered a permanent position, staying for over 4 years.

3) If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your “recently graduated” self?
Keep going! It’s not always a clear and straight path to where you want to go, however be sure to enjoy the journey as you’ll be surprised where your hard work takes you and how much you can learn along the way.

4) What are your top tips for students looking to embark on a career in HR?
HR gives you the opportunity to learn and experience different corporate functions and provides continuous learning opportunities. Be sure to explore all areas of HR in your career so you can develop as a professional and add value to the business across a variety of specialties. Key takeaways include: Invest in yourself – continue to learn, up skill and seek out further education. Always put your best foot forward – show up and represent your brand. Roll up your sleeves and say yes to as many opportunities as you can!

SHAKURA SHARMIN, HR BUSINESS PARTNER – AUSIEX at COMMONWEALTH BANK

1) Please tell us a little bit about your career journey from HR Internship to where you are now.
In my final year studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science (HRM) at UNSW, I ventured out to get work experience by doing internships, one of which was with Peoplecorp at Clayton Utz where I stayed on post-graduation for two and half years. I got involved in a range of things including engagement, remuneration, performance, talent and much more. My time at Clayton Utz cemented my HR foundations and helped shape my working style.

I wanted to delve into a role that supported people to be their best every day, so I took up an opportunity as an HR Advisor at Alinta Energy where I worked with leaders in the business on a diverse range of matters. This really helped sharpen my ability to partner effectively with the business and appreciate the beauty of balancing issues commercially and humanly.

After over two and a half years with Alinta Energy, I’ve now taken up an opportunity as HR Business Partner – AUSIEX at Commonwealth Bank. I’m really excited to challenge myself working closely with the business to work through exciting changes as part of the divestment of AUSIEX.

2) What has been your toughest career challenge to date?
I found the early stages of the COVID19 impact, tricky. It was difficult to feel confident and give certainty to the teams I worked with when nothing was certain. Being in HR, my focus was to ensure we worked through the changes in a fair and consistent way while also making sure our communication plan including the difficult messages sitting behind them held onto its genuine, human touch.

3) If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your “recently graduated” self?
A key part of being an effective HR practitioner is understanding the business you’re in. This takes time, curiosity and questioning, even if they seem silly. If you’re in a meeting with someone using jargon/terminology that you don’t understand, it’s ok to ask them what they mean or why something is done a particular way. When asking questions, you create habits that ultimately help you develop and create an environment for others to do the same which results in deeper insights and understanding across the business.

4) What are your top tips for students looking to embark on a career in HR?

  • Be proactive and research on how HR operates in reality. It’s tricky transitioning from textbooks to real life, so it’s worth taking the time to proactively network and seek opportunities for hands-on experience.
  • Normalise getting ‘rejected’. You might apply for 50 jobs and only hear back from a few. Take the time to reflect and get advice on improving your applications. Rejection is not personal nor a failure. Just keep going!
  • Most of us are keen to move up in the world but you don’t need to rush through the key years of building a solid foundation for your career. Develop a career plan if that helps you, but the genuine focus should be on expanding and deepening your skillset through critical experiences rather than simply jumping into new roles with fancier titles or pay.
  • If you make mistakes, own it and demonstrate how you’ll do better next time. Have some perspective and know that all mistakes are part of learning.