Transcript of the podcast
Milla Sukki [00:00:10]: Hello, you are listening to TUURA podcast. Today is the 22nd of October 2020 and we are interviewing business coordinator Vân Lê. My name is Milla Sukki.
Leea Lepistö [00:00:25]: And my name is Leea Lepistö and we both study Musical Theater in TAMK. Welcome and thank you so much for joining us today Vân Lê. Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Vân Lê [00:00:37]: Hi Milla and Leea, thanks for having me. My name is Van Lee. I'm a business coordinator at Business Tampere.
Milla Sukki [00:00:47]: Welcome. First off, we would like to talk about diversity in work community in Business Tampere. What do you think of diverse work community?
Vân Lê [00:00:56]: Well, when we talk about diverse work community, we usually think about the demographic features of the population the people there. For example, diversity in age, nationality and especially genders. But to me it is more than just those features. It's more like personalities and skills and knowledge and network. And these are the diversity community that I see at work especially at Business Tampere.
Leea Lepistö [00:01:29]: And how do you think the principles of equality are reflected in your company, how do you see it?
Vân Lê [00:01:37]: I see it mostly in our daily practices at work for example we are trying, every team in our company, trying to hire more international talents. And when we have international talents here, we respect their presence by transferring our meeting language to English for example and the documents are being translated to English nowadays and I really appreciate that. And this is not only within our community at work we also have the similar approach on our customer cases for example we encourage them to increase diversity and most importantly we support them by engaging them to our marketing campaigns. And lately we have the current marketing campaign called Reinvent Tampere, where we talk about diversity, gender equality and so on. And we invite our customer to join our podcasts and interviews. Something like that.
Leea Lepistö [00:02:37]: Yeah that sounds great. Is English your main language in Business Tampere? Is it your main work language there?
Vân Lê [00:02:48]: It really depends on the team. So, my team, we have a lot of international talents in the team. We have about four or five nationalities, so that's why English is our main language. And when we have a company meeting in the past it used to be in English but nowadays, we have more international people, so we have English as our main language in the company meetings. But in case there's no international people presenting that meeting then they will be using Finnish for sure. And that's no problem.
Milla Sukki [00:03:17]: Yeah, right. What about have there been any trainees in your company?
Vân Lê [00:03:26]: Yes absolutely. Since I joined until now, I have seen myself about four to five trainees and among them there’s like about like two to three people who are from different countries than Finland.
Leea Lepistö [00:03:42]: Have you yourself been working with any trainees? Are you like educating them or are they present in your everyday work life?
Vân Lê [00:03:56]: Yes, we have an intern from last summer, from May, and she worked directly with me in the foreign direct investment team. And she helped me with the daily work from supporting our customer to organizing events or to you know just send some emails to our customer. The work tasks that she has is really diverse itself, but I worked daily with her.
Leea Lepistö [00:04:23]: Yeah that sounds great. I think for us as well, we are studying Musical Theater, which is pretty much completely different, but we also have one trainee period per year when we kind of like go into the work life. And it's just such a great thing that we can have. We're kind of experiencing what it's like to work in that field. And it's always great that you have people working there that are willing to help and want to show you the ropes and get you going to that task. So, it's very valuable.
Milla Sukki [00:05:00]: What about the orientation. How is it handled and how do the trainees get guidance?
Vân Lê [00:05:06]: Yes so, I think it has been changing to a more positive direction nowadays. So, we have more resources for this orientation when there's a new trainee coming or even just new employees. Usually during the first day the administration team, we have a team dedicated to do anything, do all the tasks related to paperwork and general introduction about holidays, benefits and so on to the trainee. And after that during the same week the trainee will receive safety guidance from one of our experts in the house to show her how to use our office facilities and rooms and so on, how to use it safely. And also we will give introduction about the person to the rest of the company so she will know everyone in the company within the first week and that's what I have seen by myself and I also did it myself to my trainee. And also depending on their supervisor, depending on the job, depending on the team, the trainee receives different instructions. But what I experienced is that I would like to have a day where I give all information about the company and the tasks itself and sit down with the trainee and discuss about her learning experience in the future with our company. Even if it's just about three months or shorter I would like to have that short time as meaningful as possible for the trainee. Because to me in the past, I value a lot all experiences I have had with whoever I meet so this is why I now think that my trainee should also receive the best possible opportunity to have that. So, what I did is that I organized one four-hour session for my trainee and go through all information within the structure and I use the golden circle “Why, What, How” to explain the information. Because naturally it's really hard to explain what Business Tampere is doing within one sentence or even within a few hours. I've been working here for a while and it's really hard for me to explain that because we do a lot of things. So, I choose to follow that structure and I explain first of all why she or he was hired and I think that motivates a lot the person to know “okay, that is why I'm here, I will I know what I've done good in the interview process so I can improve myself in the future” and also I don't just mention the positive things only but I also want to highlight some things that I think she can improve a little bit more in the skills or you know in terms of knowledge so we can work on that together during the internship. And after the “Why” I will talk about “What”, what the company is doing from the high level to the team level. For example, we have 50 plus employees within Business Tampere and we have big teams under it. And within these big teams we also have sub teams within the big team so it's really hard to just come straight from the bottom up because she won't get the holistic view that is needed for her to understand her work. So, we explain what the company is doing and what we do as a team and what is her job responsibility. And most important is about “How”, you know how we do everything from the high level to the bottom level which is the nuclear team. I will answer all the questions by for example breaking down the goal, how do we achieve this big goal as a company and, how do we achieve this big goal as a team and then how can me and the trainee work together to achieve our goal. And the most important question that I would ask is what kind of targets that the trainee would like to achieve within this short time. But of course, it's always hard to know what you want to achieve within the first day at work. But it's important to ask that question you know it's important to put it in the head so both people will remember it and always try to achieve something together and that's really important for me. After that we also want to go through some checklists for example, is everything clear from the administration's team, everything clear from the benefits, holiday, contract and then I would like to ask the trainee to make her own study plan, what she wants to achieve in practice and in for example timeline, if possible. And the last part is that I always try to remind that the trainee tries to write the learning diary which is an essential part for any internship and then later on she doesn't have to go through three months internship and doesn't remember what was done or what you have learned and that would be really hard to put down in in written form. So, that is why I always remind my intern for that.
Milla Sukki [00:10:26]: That sounds very clear, I think that's very great.
Leea Lepistö [00:10:28]: Yeah and I think it's so great that you have such a personal connection to the trainee. Because when you come from your studies to do a training it's so important that you, for example what you said, about you give some feedback about their interview process and you talk about what are the goals that the person wants to achieve. I think that's so great because that's why they're here, they want to achieve something in the field or in the company and it's so nice that you kind of take that responsibility for the trainees which is really important because you are the people who are training them and the company is training them so that sounds really great.
Milla Sukki [00:11:17]: Is there a designated person in your company and whether the training supervisor has the time and resources to handle their introduction properly?
Vân Lê [00:11:27]: As I mentioned there was basic stuff that someone else, who is not working directly with the trainee can do. But to me it makes more sense that the supervisor is the one who works directly with the trainee from daily basis. And it’s really depending on the leadership style when we ask the question about time and resources you know. To me I would like to spend more time at the beginning to answer all of the questions and the questions from a trainee who maybe doesn't have practical experience before they can be like “how do I write an email?”, “how do I say this, how do I say that?”, “how should I communicate and to whom?”. All of these questions are really basic but it's the foundation for the bigger responsibility. So, I would like to spend more time to make sure that she understands the basic stuff so later on she would be able to own her project own her task so that she doesn't have to ask my help all the time. And I think that if the trainee understands the basic principle at work then she can perform more challenging tasks and that might help.
Leea Lepistö [00:12:39]: What about communicating with the university’s supervising teacher about the training and the trainee. Do you have a lot of communication with the teacher and how is that taken care of?
Vân Lê [00:12:53]: I did have one meeting with the supervising teacher and then I think it's really straightforward that we can communicate via email and I have no problems in the past. And I also myself graduated from TAMK so that is why I knew who to contact and I have no issue with that at all.
Leea Lepistö [00:13:13]: Did you give like any feedback to the teacher or is it more straight to the trainee. Is it just with the teacher kind of keeping track on where are you going with the training? Do you think the teacher is very with it or like interested about the training program or is it just more like “okay everything is going well”?
Vân Lê [00:13:35]: I think that this is deeper than that you know of course we talk about general stuff, how is it going on with the training, and we also talk about how I feel as an employer to hire the trainee and not just about professional stuff but this is about human to human you know. So that is why I receive a lot of input and also advice from Marita how to improve our experience with the trainee in a personal level and that I appreciate a lot.
Milla Sukki [00:14:05]: Yeah that sounds good. What about how do you act if there's insurmountable problems during internship?
Vân Lê [00:14:15]: It's really hard to answer that question because so far, we don't have uh that kind of problems yet. I haven't even heard anything like that within our company or even with my myself my experience. To me everything can be solved if you communicate to each other and that's what I always tell everyone, even my teammate or my trainee. Let me know immediately when you have a problem. So, don't hold on it and just share everything even if you know you don't know how to solve it, I can always be there and help. But don't just wait, try to solve it immediately by talking to someone else who you think you can trust and if I cannot solve that problem we always have other seniors we have the directors we have the CEO, we always have a lot of people to help us out. So, especially the administration team at Business Tampere, they are really dedicated to help and they are always responsive to all issues we have within the company.
Leea Lepistö [00:15:24]: That's great. What about other cooperation from your company to the university? Do you have some other cooperation besides you know having the trainees come there? And is there something that your company would want to do like cooperation with the university?
Vân Lê [00:15:41]: We have a lot of activities going on with the university for example research projects where Business Tampere acts as a facilitator. And myself I work for the foreign direct investment team. That is why when we have a client coming to Finland who would like to talk to the university, we always need to contact the university and find the appropriate contact person. That happens mostly every day to me. Other than that, it's not just my team but other teams they have really close collaboration with the university.
Milla Sukki [00:16:22]: What about the benefits? What are the benefits for Business Tampere from having an intern?
Vân Lê [00:16:30]: The first thing is that we're going to have hands-on support in our daily work. And the second one I think which is my own experience, is the fresh perspective in what we do. We are so deep in what we do every day and we just don't know that sometimes we forget that people have different perspective from outside of companies so having this intern provide us some fresh opinions. And you know maybe people who doesn't have any experience in this field they give really good opinions about things, so I really appreciate that, and the cultural diversity is something that I have been thinking about. That's super beneficial. When a new person comes in, they bring their knowledge, they bring their network, they bring their language which is a big plus for us.
Milla Sukki [00:17:26]: Yeah for sure, that sounds great. Is there anything else you would like to share about this topic?
Vân Lê [00:17:31]: I think that there's some learning experience that I think I can share. First of all when any trainee come out from the university usually the big advantage for everyone is that don't expect people to be there all the time to give you tasks and you always have to try to think and be creative and observe the contact, the situation so you can come up with some tasks and use your own initiative to create tasks yourself sometimes. And that is within our working culture, within Business Tampere for example that is really common. And sometimes I see that people are fixed with their titles, in the title that they wish to work with like either it is generalist or specialist or you know if I graduate from business administration in marketing specialist then I will have to look for job within the term marketing only but that isn't so specific example. But sometimes the task or the skill that you have can be suitable for other positions that doesn't have the term. So, you have to be active, update your LinkedIn profile all the time and try to look a lot in the job description as well not just the title. And I think that with my intern we have the continuing working contract for her as an official employee at Business Tampere after her training period. Because the last week before we enter contract, the story is that we didn't make decision yet, are we going to continue with her or not because well nowadays, the Corona period, everything is uncertain. But because of her attitude, because of her mindset in the last working week, she didn't care that is it the last week, no, she contributed herself, she did her best in whatever I assigned her to do and that made me feel like this is a good attitude and we have to keep her no matter what. And a lot of people actually think, okay I'm not going to continue this contract within this company anymore I would not try my best, and that's not a good thing actually. So, I hope anyone who are looking for internship at the moment or any trainee period they can learn from these tips that I have and hope that people can get job during this time.
Leea Lepistö [00:20:02]: Yeah, that's really interesting. And thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your views on this subject. It was really nice to hear, and I think for anyone listening this has been very interesting as well. I think that's all that we have today, and we thank you so much Vân Lê.
Vân Lê [00:20:59]: Thank you.
Leea Lepistö [00:20:27]: Thank you for everyone who listened, and we say bye!
Milla Sukki [00:20:30]: Bye bye!