Interns share first-hand accounts of life-changing experiences
In May and June dozens of LER undergrad and grad students took off to destinations from New York City to Portland, Oregon, to Taiwan to participate in internships. Very often the internships our students do are life-changing experiences. And very often our students are able to do these internships because of the financial support they receive from alumni contributions to our School. Below, four of our students share their recent experiences from various internships around the U.S. and the world.
You can help students have these important experiences by: 1.) sponsoring a summer internship for one of our students. To do so contact Jessica Steele, our Career and Recruitment Coordinator at (814) 863-5389 or firstname.lastname@example.org 2.) Make a contribution to help cover the living and travel costs of LER students doing internships (often these costs exceed the compensation interns receive and in some cases the internships are not paid). You can send checks made out to Penn State, with LER Internships in the memo line, to Trish Everhart, Penn State LER, 5th Floor Keller, Bldg., University Park, PA 16802.
“The summer will go by so fast”, “it will be done before you know it….” Those were the phrases I heard the most during my first weeks as a Human Resource Leadership Program (HRLP) intern at GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t actually believe those words when I first heard them. To my surprise, they were true as the summer was over in the blink of an eye. When you are working in a place where there is never a dull moment, time flies.
After a few weeks of orientation and adjustment, the pace of the work quickly picked up and I soon had as much freedom and autonomy as any other fulltime employee. Those two words are what stand out for me when I think of my experience: freedom and autonomy.
Freedom: As an HRLP intern you have projects you work on independently that are important for the business and you are the only one responsible for them. Many of my projects required me to work with people overseas and with GE interns located at other facilities.
Autonomy: At GE you own your development. What you learn depends on what you put into the work. During my internship I was constantly competing with myself, getting feedback, and trying to get better. There was something in the air that motivated me to go out of my comfort zone and reach a whole new professional level. In 12 weeks I was exposed to succession planning, competency models, strategic workforce planning, compensation, and workplace policies. I validated data analysis tools and created training to close employee’s knowledge gaps. In sum, I learned about a business that is constantly evolving and providing the latest technology to the world.
Working at a production facility of Pepsico's Frito-Lay division in Tennesee gave me great exposure to human resources responsibilities in a plant environment. I had the opportunity to participate in employee discipline cases which involved leading and conducting my own employee investigations. This experience was rewarding because it allowed me to really see and understand the work and the challenges of front-line employees. If I were in a more corporate environment, it would have been much more difficult to help front-line employees since I wouldn't truly understand what their work was like every day in the factory.
This past summer I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with an amazing union, AFSCME, in their Union Scholars Program. The Union Scholars Program brings young activists together to support campaigns that will help improve the worklives of public sector workers. I spent 10 weeks in Louisville, Kentucky where I participated in union negotiations, mediation, grievance hearings, rallies, discipline hearings, internal organizing and more. I received first-hand experience in how unions works and met wonderful people who passed on knowledge and taught me skills I will use for the rest of my life. At the end of the internship I had the opportunity to attend a union education program at Harvard University (AFSCME’s partner in the Union Scholars Program) and officially graduate from Harvard Law School’s the Labor and Work Life Program. This was a great once-in a-lifetime experience for which I will be forever grateful!
American Institute of Taiwan
I am a first generation Taiwanese-American born in South Jersey. My parents immigrated to NYC in 1983 to get their respective degrees. Now, I am an MS3 (Army ROTC junior) in the Nittany Lion Battalion and I am ecstatic that I will eventually be a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
This summer I participated in an internship at the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei, Taiwan. It was a life-changing experience. AIT is a non-profit, private organization that undertakes a wide range of activities representing U.S. interests in Taiwan, including commercial services, agricultural sales, consular services and cultural exchanges. Since I am fluent in Mandarin-Chinese, I was able to update the Phone Tree and Contact Directory for the Institute, help unload and sort unclassified mail pouches for Dept. of State employees, answer phone calls regarding visa applications (visas to the U.S.), and network with Chiefs of various sections within the Institute such as the Economic, Political, Information Management, Regional Security, and Consulate sections. I hope to possibly work again at the Institute again during the summer of 2016.