Below is an interview by Hongik Kim with Eungyung Choi, both Korean exchange students in Metropolia Business School.
1. Why did you apply for internship here?
Actually, I did not choose the company, but the company chose me. I sent my C.V. and motivation letter to placement coordinator at Metropolia Business School and she sent them to a number of companies. Later, one company decided to hire me as an intern, which is where I am working now. The company is RFID Lab Finland. However, before I was hired, I already heard about the company from my Korean friend who had been an intern here previously. I thought the company was good and wanted to work there because he said the company gave him the opportunity to carry out real projects (not just sitting at the desk and typing simple documents). Also, the fact that the company deals with RFID, high technology that is important and popular today made me want to work there.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses communication via radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object, for the purpose of identification and tracking. (Wikipedia) RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product that you put in your shopping cart. RFID tags are tracking vehicles, airline passengers, Alzheimer’s patients and pets.
2. Explain about your company
RFID Lab Finland is a non-profit organization, which is a leading Finnish application center for RFID technology.
Its founder: City of Vantaa
Its targets are:
1) to improve the operational efficiency in existing business processes in Finnish companies
and organizations with identification technology.
2) to enable new business models based on identification.
3) to support the growth of identification technology industry in Finland by networking and cooperation.
It has 46 member companies and organizations including software and integration companies, operators, tag manufacturers, etc.
Its main customers are the potential end-users of RFID technology, for example people in the retail industry and logistics sector.
It connects the potential utilisers to solution providers(its member companies). Since it is a non-profit organization, it does not get paid commission. It is funded by city of Vantaa, its implementation and member fees come from its member companies.
1) Free RFID-helpdesk (consulting)
2) Clustering, information collection, information sharing
3) Thematic and technology seminars
4) Educational and workshop services
5) Running development projects in Finland
3. Have you ever had an internship in Korea?
It is my first time to do an internship, so I cannot really compare internship in Korea and my internship in Finland. However, I realized some differences between Korean business culture and Finnish business culture. I think the work conditions In Korea are more rigid while the ones in Finland are more flexible. For instance, in Korea, it is common that all workers have to come to the office at the same specified time. Therefore, I felt relaxed when I heard that in this company, it is up to me to choose the work time. I have to work for 8 hours per day and can choose when to come to and leave the office among 7~9a.m. for coming and 3~5p.m. for leaving. It is very efficient system because I can manage my time according to my circumstances.
My boss told me there is no such stiff hierarchy in the workplace in Finland.
That is very different aspect from Korean company. In Korea, when person A is a boss and B is an executive, we usually always keep that fact in mind and are careful in front of them. My boss told me a story about Korean guy who had worked here before me. My boss and he were having lunch and the executive came and said hi. The Korean guy was very surprised and did not know what to do because he found it uncomfortable to just keep sitting down when the executive was standing in front of them. When I heard his story, I totally could understand him. In Korea, it is common that when the executive comes to workers, they act politely and stand up if the bosses are sitting down. However, here, I often see my boss and another manager talking with the executive in a relaxed mood like they do to their colleague on the same management level.
Here, workers are more independent. I have a lot of opportunities to conduct my project as I wish. My boss often asks me my ideas, opinions, and what I would like to do. Besides, I do not feel at all that she is watching me. She asks me “how is your work going?” or “is everything ok?”. She often says “tell me if you have a question or need help”. So she is more like guiding and helping me to achieve things I want, which is far different from just giving me an order or watching me.
One day morning, I texted my boss that I could not go to work because I was sick. I was not so sick but more tired after the last night’s party. About two hours later, my boss called me, asking I was ok, and I said the truth -that I was not sick. She told me workers at Finland are given much freedom and at the same time, much trust, so they should be more responsible for their job. I felt really embarrassed. For that incident, I realized that I should never abuse the trust and freedom given to me. I felt I should work more hard since the company (and my boss) trust me.
4. What did you learn as an intern?
I have just started my internship since 19th of January, so it has been only a short time yet. I am learning really quickly. So far, I learned that I should take responsibility for myself and be serious about my internship. In terms of tasks I do here, the main task is coming up with ideas of applying NFC(Near Field Communications) technology to hotel services. The task will be really helpful for me to find a job in hotel business, where I would like to work in the future. Besides, I am getting familiar with RFID and NFC technology that are becoming more and more useful in the world. The knowledge that I have gained will help me in the future when I find a job
in similarly connected fields such as a mobile company or logistics company, etc.