Campuses:

HRIR Students Reflect on Summer Internships

September 26, 2013

Many students traveled across the state and the country to engage with non-profits, government, and companies.

While some students spent their summer relaxing, Human Resources and Industrial Relations Master's students were busy participating in internships across the state and country to obtain valuable real-world experience.

The students attest their internships offered real-world experience in the human resources field that they can apply to their future MA-HRIR courses and careers.

Jesse Jones interned at both the City of Minneapolis and Vail Place and said he gained a better understanding of the concept of "human resources."

"I could see clearly how HR is positioned to align and develop the 'human resources,' and got a real sense of what that phrase really means," he says. "I intend to keep these insights in mind and apply them to organizations large or small."

Jones obtained an unexpected insight this summer: the importance of strong communication skills in human resources.

"I think it's easy for us students, especially in a program like ours that emphasizes quantitative analysis so heavily, to take communication and 'soft' skills for granted," he says. "The way you express yourself profoundly affects how people react to your ideas and impacts how successfully you can implement your goals."

Some students discovered an internship at recruiting events while others found opportunities from online postings. Zachariah Roberts interned for Hershey's in Pennsylvania and discovered the position by using external job searching websites.

"Who wouldn't want to work for a chocolate company?" he says. "You love the product before you even show up for work.

As part of their experience, the students improved their ability to navigate a large organization, honed their networking skills, and improved their planning and organization skills.

Dani Blackowiak, who interned for the organizational effectiveness department at General Mills, said she quickly learned the importance of navigating a large and matrixed organization.

"In a company the size of General Mills, figuring out who was important to include in the process of my project was key," Blackowiak says.

Not only did the internships give students real-world experience, but also solidified their paths in HR.

"I was able to see my future career path and the experience reinforced that I had made the correct career choice," says Megan Welch, employee relations intern at the 3M distribution center in Illinois.

Some words the students used to describe their internships were, meaningful, amazing, perfect, and energized.

"My great satisfaction with both internships lies in the fact that I had the opportunity to do work with real positive impact on the organizations and the employees," says Jones. "Not only did I grow and learn through the experience, but I was able to do some real good as a result."

Anne Huang interned at Microsoft in Washington and said her advice to students is to be curious and ask questions.

"I realized, for the first time, questions are so powerful, sometimes even more important than answers."