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.
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.