RBC - Hong Yi Chen

Today is the September 1st, which marks the last weekday of the summer. School begins next week and I can safely say with no doubt that this was the best summer of my life.


When you think of working at a large corporation such as RBC, you don’t usually associate it with entrepreneurship or a startup culture. Going into my internship at RBC, I was offered a position on the Intrapreneurship team. That’s right, not entrepreneurship, but Intrapreneurship.


The Intrapreneurship team was fairly new and essentially its role was to promote and facilitate a startup mindset within entrepreneurs inside RBC, to inspire them to innovate and be intrapreneurs. An intrapreneur is an individual who uses entrepreneurial skills within a large corporation to spearhead and develop projects just like the startup world.

Being someone who’s an aspiring entrepreneur, this position was 100% the right fit. I had no idea what I was going into, but at the end of my term here, I can safely say that it was infinitely rewarding. On my first day here, I was locked out of the office and could barely maneuver around the high tech elevators. It was overwhelming at first - a large glass building right by the harbour front in Downtown Toronto - what was a small high school student like me going to do in arguably one of the largest banks in Canada? However, I felt right at home as my amazing team welcomed me and introduced me to countless opportunities. I got the chance to attend RBC expos, TechTO events, and even join in on weekly innovation meetings. 


I spent most of my time here creating content for RBC’s internal platform, RBC Connect, where I made blog posts, assisted in the product development of resources for intrapreneurs, and even did graphic design for multiple projects. When I wasn’t doing that, I had meetings with employees to learn more about RBC and gain some new skills. “Wow, you’re in high school?” Was a common comment that I received at my term here. 


Throughout my month here, I was exposed to countless technologies that I have never heard of before. Blockchain, cloud computing, Amazon Web Services, and even data science. At the same time, I was learning graphic design and even some UX/UI design. I got the chance to have coffee meetings with numerous talented, open, and welcoming individuals. Whether it was developers, co-ops, managers, or even Vice Presidents, each and every person here at their own story and did not hesitate to help. Oddly enough, Sumit Oberai, who is the Senior Vice President of Digital at RBC, came and gave a lecture on Digital Disruptions at Queen’s SHAD. Fast forward one month, I was working in the same building as him!


This did not feel like the typical 9-5 corporate experience at all. There were beanbags, oculus rifts, Mario Kart competitions during lunch, and even fidget spinners. Everyone’s laptops were filled with unique stickers and it felt exactly like a startup.


RBC truly fosters an environment for creativity and growth, and it shows in its Intrapreneurship and Early Talent programs. RBC holds hackathons, pitch competitions, internal entrepreneurial programs (RBCx) and even a co-op program where students create a product and pitch to senior executives within RBC (RBC Amplify). Certainly a large bank might not appeal to everyone, but after working here for a month, it does not feel like work as it’s a place where I can challenge myself and ultimately learn!


After attending Queen’s SHAD and having the opportunity to pursue my passions at RBC as an entrepreneur inside a corporate setting, I cannot thank SHAD and RBC enough for this opportunity. I’ve learned so much and grew tremendously as an individual throughout the span of two months. 


Hong Yi Chen

Toronto, On


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