Get an intern!

Every HR department needs an intern! I’m convinced. After having my first experience with an HR intern for our department, I’m sold. We legit needed help with our workload, but from the beginning my little HR heart hoped we would be able to give back to the advancement of the profession while getting some real work done. The thing is, our company has a ballin’ intern program that allows engineering students (with 3.5 GPA and up) an opportunity to work on some meaningful technical tasks for our customers. The work they get to do gives them a glimpse of what their field looks like and if they really want to do what they thought they wanted to do. Being an engineering firm we really stumped ourselves when adding an essential business systems intern to the mix. Do we even include this intern in our intern program? For example, at the end of every summer our interns do a technical presentation, open to the entire company to attend, on what their project was. Engineers talking engineering appeals to other engineers, but would HR appeal to our engineers? Would anyone care? What can we teach this HR intern about real HR without spending too much time training? How can we help this intern be sure that HR is the right path.

Amazingly enough I feel like we tackled all of our tough questions this summer and though we were not able to give our intern a lot of HR related work, we made sure we explained things to her that we talked about so she could have an idea of what was going on. I say that, but maybe it isn’t that it’s not HR related work as much as us experienced pros forget that it’s HR related, you know in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, we included her in staff meetings, took her to our local SHRM chapter meetings (NASHRM), encouraged her to do a project to present on and 100% included her in the intern program. She told me she learned a lot this summer and even through filing and scheduling interviews she was exposed to some HR tasks that she hadn’t known existed. When we had a session on benefits at a NASHRM luncheon I encouraged her afterwards to sit down with one of our benefits specialist to understand what all of the benefits talk meant. During interview set up she was faced with a lot of questions about the position that sometimes made her feel like a recruiter rather than a scheduler. She did a lot of research on her recruiting related project and we tested out some of her social media ideas at a NASHRM event. I think we did a great job exposing her to the world of HR and giving her a lot of scenarios that she can use in the classroom this fall when she returns to the classroom for her junior year.

Not only did she do a GREAT job, she gave us all GREAT gifts at the end of the summer! Woo-hoo!

Not only did she do a GREAT job, she gave us all GREAT gifts at the end of the summer! Woo-hoo!

I know it is not always possible to bring in an intern, but I think it’s the best way for us to grow our profession. The future or HR needs guidance and mentoring, so let’s do something about it! Even if you cannot bring in an intern, maybe you can set up a few job shadowing days, those are unpaid ya dig? Making yourself available to HR students to answer their questions or be an example is a great way to make sure that the progress of HR thus far, doesn’t get undone. What are your thoughts? Have you had an HR intern in the past? What was your experience? Any tips on setting up job shadow days for HR students? Leave them in the comments below.

Because I was an #intern … a guest post

There are two things that I stress to everyone wanting to get a job after graduation (especially in the HR field): Networking and Internships. These days “entry level” requires hands-on experience which you can only get by working in the office. Not only that, but internships provide you an opportunity to test the waters and see if you even want to work in that field!

In my case, I had the unfortunate happenstance to be going to school out of state and was unable to land an internship until the summer following my graduation. In all my time studying Human Resources I thought I wanted to specialize in Benefits and Compensation, so when I started my internship I requested projects relating to that area. It was not long before I realized that, while I was good at the analyzing it was NOT what I wanted to do 40hrs/wk until retirement! Luckily for me, the needs at the company changed and I was switched over to staffing: something I had never considered as an option for me.

All of my work experience prior to this internship involved working the phones, so it was no stretch for me to pick up the phone and start cold calling possible candidates to screen them for positions. To my surprise, I fell in love with staffing.  From writing job descriptions, to sourcing, to speaking with candidates I seemed to pick it up quite naturally. It was the fit that I was looking for in a job. I was able to see the textbook knowledge I had put into practice and I learned to use tools that the school did not teach me about (ATS and HRIS, anyone?). Don’t get me wrong, staffing can be quite stressful at times, but I work well under pressure and found it much more exciting than benefits.

The company I interned with must have been happy with my performance, because at the end of my internship I was hired on part-time and later promoted to full time. It was a wonderful experience because I was able to hire interns of my own to share my knowledge with them. While I have since changed companies, I owe a lot to the company who hired me as an intern. It offered me invaluable experience and provided a way to get my foot in the door. While the internship was unpaid, it more than paid for itself with experience that I would not have gotten otherwise.




Melanie has a Bachelor’s in Human Resources from the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she served as President and Treasurer for the student chapter of SHRM. She has been working in a staffing-related role since May 2012 and is active in the local SHRM community. She spends a lot of her time volunteering and has an HR blog ( written from the viewpoint of an entry level HR professional. She is passionate about mentoring HR students and continues to help with the UAH-SHRM chapter.

I want to be… an #intern

In two weeks, I will complete my first summer internship. Although an internship is primarily sought out for experience, I have learned much more about the real world than how to put difficult equations to practice (engineer, here).
My internship search actually began two years ago, as a Sophomore in college. I attended the career fairs that I was always advised to, and flirted with numerous recruiters from various companies. I had minimal luck, but ended up scoring an interview with an aerospace firm close to home. I really wanted this internship, so I prepared diligently for the interview, not thinking to apply to other engineering firms online. After receiving a second interview, I was unfortunately notified that I had not been chosen.
Last year, I took a different approach to the internship hunt. I decided to attend the career fairs as before, but also applying to as many programs online as possible. This is my biggest piece of advice: apply, apply, apply. For every hundred internships you apply for, you may only score one interview. It seems like overkill, but that is what it takes. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket like i did two years ago.
After weeks of filling out applications and a handful of interviews, I finally received two offers for the summer. Despite this great news, I was in a predicament. While one company had a more prestigious name, the work was more business-like and less technical. The other company was much smaller, but promised exciting technical projects. In the end, I chose the latter option, and couldn’t have been more pleased.
This summer, I contributed to a real assignment that a customer will see. I was able to to apply skills I have learned in college (microprocessor operation) and learn new ones in the process (script programming). At the end of the summer, I will present my findings in front of my fellow interns as well as the CEO and President of the company.

No coffee?
Aside from the technical experience I’ve gained, I’ve also learned a lot about corporate culture at the company I work for. Due to its size, the company is more connected to its employees, providing them with special benefits and family concern. Employees also enjoy company-sponsored events, such as picnics and holiday celebrations. Although I am unsure about my final career plans, I do know for sure that I would prefer a smaller firm over a large one.
Finally, I have learned what it means to live in a new place, starting anew with a blank slate. I was unfamiliar with the city, so on the weekends I explored new restaurants, parks, and coffee shops. I started with no friends, so I chose to spend time with my fellow interns. I even started playing Ultimate Frisbee (I was a little late in the game), meeting friends there. All in all, my internship experience was golden. I accomplished my primary goal: to learn something. And on the way, I just happened to meet some amazing people that I can call friends.

My name is Andrew Mortellaro and I am an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Florida.