NAME: Akshay Biradar
SCHOOL: Northeastern University, Boston
DEPARTMENT: Project Engineering Co-op – Transformers
When I was interviewed for the project engineer co-op position at Hasbro, I understood that the opportunity offers a learning experience to communicate and work with clients and colleagues on an international level. Additionally, I was super excited to learn that I will be working on the Transformers department and getting an exposure to the fictional characters that made up most of my childhood! It was no surprise that the pandemic situation had pushed all major MNCs to work remotely so, I had already anticipated the fact that my job would require me to work from home for most of the days. On the brighter side, I began to perceive it as an opportunity to learn a new style of working, which may possibly be adopted by most firms even after the pandemic is put to rest, but who can say! Although there is a different element of excitement in working on ground, I appreciate the steps taken by Hasbro to institute a safe working environment and safety of employees.
Thursdays have by far been my most favorite days of the week, mostly because I get to go on ground and meet my team. My workstation is packed with toys and movie posters, which also adds so much more to the ambience of working on ground. Contrarily, working remotely has taught me newer ways to manage responsibilities, both in my personal and professional areas. The most challenging part of working remotely has been in areas involving social interaction. Although my team members and colleagues are very much accessible via online platforms, it is incomparable to the delight of working with them in person.
The Hello-Hasbro orientation was very valuable in providing a holistic overview of the company’s business and what the co-op experience has to offer. I was also introduced to icebreaker events like the Scavenger Hunt and the EPIC project, that created an interactive platform to connect and work with other co-ops and interns.
On meeting my team for the very first time, I was very pleased with their humble attitude and the interest they portrayed towards working with me. My manager gave a quick tour of the company and explained about all the inhouse facilities I can make use of moving forward. He also introduced me to colleagues from other departments that I will be working with closely and put forward a systematic schedule to help me through the learning process., I could not be more grateful for all the help my team has provided to ensure I have settled in smoothly.
This co-op is my first industrial experience in the United States, so I was delighted to be part of a learning experience from both technical and cultural standpoint. I am looking forward to learning concepts like Product Life Cycle Management, Packaging and Manufacturing, and how all the process stages are synced together, to meet the timely needs of customers. From a marketing point of view I was curious to learn about the demand forecasting methods used for various scales of products. The brand bolsters characters from numerous Transformers franchises, and hence makes it very crucial for the business to obtain an accurate forecast.
Working from home, although it has its own perks like more family-time, no commuting issues and easy access to meals, I prefer to keep my professional and personal lives exclusive to their environments. Working in an office has always impacted my productivity more positively, so I realized that I need to make some amendments to ensure that I work just as efficiently from home as well. I focused on areas that deters productivity and thought about ways I can improve them. I learned to sync all my meetings, tasks and reminders onto the calendar app on my phone and use tools like the ‘Priority Matrix’ to classify them based on their priorities. I also cultivated a habit to make short notes on all the projects, which served as a great help to keep myself updated. It can get overwhelmingly busy as you progress through your co-op so, it is best to have a game plan that suits your style of work and helps you stay organized!
I enjoy attending meeting in which we get to discuss about new product concepts based on upcoming movies and television shows. It is certainly a visual treat to witness the creative artwork on these characters firsthand! In other meetings like the Gate, Topline and Project Kickoff, all the departments get together to discuss the project statuses and raise queries. As a co-op, you get to learn how meetings are conducted systematically and collective decisions are made.
My favorite part of the job is to examine prototype action figures for engineering, design and safety-related issues. The regional offices in Asia, known as Hasbro Far East, send shipments containing toy samples that need to be examined for engineering and quality improvements by our team. I play a part in addressing these issues with my team and communicating them back to HFE. So far, the learning experience has been extremely fruitful. My manager – Mike Booth, has always been very approachable to all my queries and taught me how to manage my tasks, especially when the responsibilities tend to increase. My favorite memories are the lunch sessions we have when the whole team is on site. We chat about the latest news and trends in the media, share funny anecdotes and the things we like to do when we are not at work. These sessions have helped me get to know my colleagues a lot better, and bond with them on topics that are not just limited to our professional lives.
P2M or Product to Marketing, is the most interesting tool I have used so far. It is like a cerebrum of the organization. It contains all the necessary information about the projects and the individuals working on them. I have found this tool to be extremely helpful to extract information on projects and familiarize myself with the members responsible for each of the product development stages.
The co-op experience has motivated me to learn newer ways to organize myself from working remotely, and fostered a sense of responsibility from taking ownership of some projects. The wide exposure in collaborating with international clients and colleagues has also been extremely beneficial to fathom skills like teamwork and professional communication.
Personally, I believe that the best way to get accustomed to a workplace is by maintaining a healthy relationship with the people you work with. If you show dedication and eagerness to learn, it will certainly not go unnoticed, but in fact, motivate them to help you learn better. Try to make as many connections as possible, and don’t be reluctant to ask around questions you don’t have answers to!