You might be surprised

At a previous job, a high school internship program was something no one wanted to oversee. One of the issues we had with it was that it came from the top down and we were like “um, we have enough stuff to do, but thanks anyway.”

Another reason we were not interested is because we didn’t have time to waste with high school students when we needed to spend time targeting college students.

The ridiculous part there is, we were being stubborn and failing to consider how engaging with interested high school students might later make engaging with college students easier, but I’ll come back to that.

I remember when the initiative hit my desk and I was like NO WAY! My boss pulled rank though and said his NO WAY over ruled my NO WAY so I was stuck with it.

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That meant I had to dig around for any and all documentation we may require for employing high school students; labor laws that mandated what they could and could not do and when they could and could not work; and how to navigate events with minors. Specifically, our annual lake house event. Do the kids get to sign the waiver? Do their parents have to sign it? Does it matter? Etc. All tasks I was not excited about even though I knew that it would be easy enough to find the answers.

Thankfully the first group of high school interns for the program was a small group. The technical mentor was a very knowledgeable employee who really took the time to invest in their learning that summer so that helped a lot too.

My biggest hurdles including incorporating them appropriately into an already established college intern program while making sure they were welcomed, learned valuable things, and had a good experience.

By the end of the summer the high school interns became my favorite interns. They were more dependable, inquisitive, invested, and polite than some of the college interns. (Sorry to my former college interns that are reading this, don’t worry though yall will always be my sweet baby interns LOL #IheartMATLAB…). Anyway, all the interns were great, but the high school interns really showed out.

After that first summer I couldn’t wait for the next round of high school interns. It was also cool that other companies started calling us and asking us how we did it. Since my boss adamantly refused to run the program, I was the go-to for these kinds of questions and I have to admit-that was fun!

Now I get the opportunity to go sit with other companies and help them develop an effective high school internship program. I also help local schools when I can on getting their messaging out to other companies who could benefit from a defined strategic high school internship program. (side note, I do that as much as possible because I remember how much I didn’t want to implement the program so I know I can’t be the only one having that reaction, so I want to help people see the possible end result when I can).

Something I thought would be glorified babysitting turned out to be one of my favorite things to participate in. I also very much enjoy running into former high school interns who can articulate how that experience from our program has helped them on their career path. Once those former high school interns got to college, they willingly became a resource to help with on site recruiting efforts. They basically became built-in brand ambassadors. To be fair, our college interns did too, but there was something to be said about having a brand ambassador on board from the first time they stepped foot on campus.

Moral of the story? Step out of your comfort zone at some point in 2019 and volunteer for something you wouldn’t normally do. If you hate it you never have to do it again, but you might be surprised.

The Most Awkward Position on Your Board

My faithful readers know that I’ve been involved in my local SHRM chapter since about 2008 and that I’ve held a lot of different volunteer roles through those years (holy cow that’s ten years, which I think makes me a chapter historian by default). Side note, if you’re still a faithful reader of my inconsistent blogging, you deserve an award and all of my appreciation! Focus Kristina.

My favorite role was Legislative Director (or Governmental Affairs) and I did that one for a few years! I’ve also been on the Community Relations Committee that later evolved to the Community Relations and Education Committee (and yeah I was on that too). I was Chapter Administrator and a workshop magician with Michelle (good story, you should keep one or two of these in your chapter). I rolled out the chapters social media (that we are STILL working on-cmon HR pros use the social media powers for good already and stop fighting it)! I’ve supported Programs and Membership via subcommittees and helped anyone who ever had more than they could handle on their plate execute their volunteer commitment in a way that ensured our members wouldn’t miss a beat. I’ve helped coordinate membership events, vendor appreciation events, updated chapter info, suffered through HOURS LONG board meetings where we all had to share 1 large pizza (It’s worth mentioning here that I can literally eat an entire large pizza by myself), supported SHRM Foundation through calling companies begging for donations, marketed everywhere I could think of, changed our sponsor strategy, partnered with many a local initiative, raised money, recruited volunteers, balanced a budget or two, stressed over menu options and I actually wore a t-shirt that said “HR for hoo-hahs” in public to support an event that a board member signed our chapter up for. She thought “hoo-hahs” were your boobs… no one calls their boobs “hoo-hahs.” I’ve been president-elect, I’ve been president, I’ve been many a presidents “get stuff done” person, I’ve asked people to stop soliciting to members, I’ve been accused of not providing enough tech support to members who were trying to figure out their gmail (turns out it wasn’t me she was looking for, Ben helped her set up her gmail-how did she even confuse me with him?).  I’ve even endured an awkward conversation with a member that suggested I should be submitted to a psychiatric study, but by far the most awkward position I’ve ever held for our chapter has been immediate Past President.

That’s the actual title, immediate Past President. I get the purpose of this role and I’m thrilled to still be on the board (and back in a support role), but this one is weird! I sort of feel like I’m in the way and that maybe a good ol clean cut changing of the guard was in order. I love our members and I enjoy serving them, but I feel like I’m in the boards way now. I knew it was time to roll off the board and make way for new members and fresh ideas on the board, believe me I’m all for me getting out of the way. We have a board filled with excitement and great ideas for the chapter, but I find myself having an internal conversation of “be seen and not heard, they will let you know when they need you.” I get the idea of a Past President, its great to have the continuation and someone to pass along a bit of history for the newer board members, but sometimes I just feel like the person in the room getting in the way of creativity. Really all I need to do is pass on what I know doesn’t work (and why it didn’t work for us) and what I know works (and why) and then get out of the way.

This is a serious leadership learning opportunity for me because I’m sure I can find a way to add value and not be in the way, I just haven’t figured it out yet. Fading out would be the easy way to deal with this, but I had other members make it a point to ask me to my face if I was going to “disappear like all of the other past presidents” on multiple occasions so I came into this role with the drive to be present, be supportive, and be a set of hands when needed but sometimes its hard. I’ve been around long enough to see almost every other president disappear (one or two actually moved away and didn’t disappear in the sense of not showing up to our events anymore) and I always wondered how to get those past presidents involved again. In my efforts to get them re-engaged through the years I did find out that some just needed to feel included, some just needed a break, but now I know at least one of us needs a safe place to say “I’m sorry for being so freaking awkward.” If you’re reading this and you’re a super awesome leader and you didn’t have this problem, good for you! I am apparently still learning leadership lessons and figuring out how to best lead from where I am without getting in the way of the actual leadership.

As a reward for your faithfulness and sticking it out to the end of this post, here’s the t-shirt proof. I tore my closet apart looking for the shirt so I could just take a picture of it for you all, but I couldn’t find it so I dug through Facebook to find the actual proof that I wore this in public… to support my fellow board member of course. Being immediate Past President is more awkward than showing you all the proof that I wore this shirt… in public.

hooha shirt
It was a breast cancer awareness 5k (I feel compelled to tell you that neither of the ladies I’m pictured with here had anything to do with this shirt). 

Let me Google that for you!

I am running up fast on ten years of HR and recruiting experience. Seems like I shouldn’t be able to say that, because ten years is a long time. I’ve learned a couple of things through the years and that’s sort of why this blog exists- to tell the other good folks of our profession about my massive mistakes and how to avoid them. This one is particularly fun because it happened early on in my career and has recently come full circle.

Sometimes people say mean things about my generation. They talk about us like we can’t read or don’t have ears for hearing. People say my generation is rude and full of lazy know it alls. I’ve defended those things for my generation many many times, but unfortunately I’ve also exhibited that dreadful behavior.

Early on in my career I joined my local SHRM chapter. Our chapter was rather large and I started volunteering so I could get to know some other professionals in a smaller atmosphere. Eventually I ended up on our board and as one of the youngest and most inexperienced professionals on the board I did allow myself a juvenile moment in front of all of my peers.

The amount of emails you receive on the board can sometimes be outrageous. Group emails, much like group texts, are like a solidified prison that you can’t tunnel your way out of. On one particularly busy work day a useless board related group email came through my inbox and instead of answering the question in the email I responded with the lmgtfy link to the answer. I know, I know-AWFUL. I considered making this one a video blog just so you could hear the agony in my voice as I relive that ridiculous antic. So how did this come full circle? There is an HR position open that someone else thinks I would be a PERFECT fit for and honestly the job sounds great, but guess what? The owners wife is that HR person that I sent a let me google that for you smart alec answer to on a reply all email on our local SHRM chapter board. Yep. Sigh…. Guess who isn’t touching that one!

let me google that for you

What should I have said in that email? How about something along the lines of “I googled your question and the top answer was xyz.” Much better than a smart alec link. Google, whats up with that link? I can’t be trusted to use that tool responsibly and now it’s come back to bite me.

google first

Lesson? It’s all in the delivery. Even on your busiest or crummiest days, what you say and how you act is a reflection of you and can come back and bite you or it can help you! Where do you want to be and what behavior is going to get you there?

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Giving back to your profession

One of my favorite things about working in Human Resources is my network! My network is full of funny and knowledgeable professionals that I call on regularly for their point of view, expertise, snarky comment or a good laugh. I would argue with anyone that I have one of the best networks ever!!! How did I end up connected to these amaze-balls peeps? One word folks, volunteering. I fell into HR by chance and the second I learned about our local SHRM affiliate chapter I was signing up and when a volunteer opportunity came my way I didn’t think twice about saying yes. I had no expectations of my volunteer role and what it would do for me, I was genuinely interested in finding a way to show my appreciation for our chapter (NASHRM) and the wealth of information they provided to newbies like myself.

I VOLUNTEER

I started out on a committee, the Community Relations & Education committee to be exact. I  immediately met two people who became friends of mine, in fact one of them was my study partner when I took the PHR exam and the other I serve on our board with to this day! It made attending large monthly luncheons less intimidating when I knew at least two people in the room. This committee is how I ended up as a board member, over the years one of the leaders on the board saw me as a good fit for a role and the rest is history. I’ve held a few different positions, but Director of Government (legislative) affairs is my favorite. This specific volunteer role has afforded me the opportunity to go on multiple hill visits to DC and this year I’m going to the legislative conference! Volunteering has connected me to potential clients, friends, experts in my field and mentors. I would not have the knowledge I have today without all of these people, programs and opportunities.

I’ve learned through my many years of volunteering that there is a spot for everyone. If you are a behind the scenes kind of volunteer maybe you can coordinate the newsletter? Only want to volunteer at one meeting, don’t be afraid to ask, even if you know you’re only available to help once you won’t be turned away. If you’re thing is event coordinating you could be involved in programs. If sales is more your thing, getting sponsors is a volunteer need. Super fantastic with online tools and gadgets and social media, there’s a spot for that. Many chapters have subcommittees to help board members fulfill their defined goals and I think that is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to volunteer. Take a minute to find out what volunteer opportunities are available in your local chapter, because while you’re doing a wonderful thing giving back to your profession (that movie title thing again) you’re doing amazing things for your professional development as well!