When I sat down to write this blog I thought about how I could best describe an internship. I settled on the following metaphor; an internship is like planting a seed, in the right environment and with careful nurturing that seed will blossom in to a healthy and vibrant career.
My first experience of internships was back in 2009 when I chose to undertake a placement during my degree at University as I recognised the importance of wanting to stand out from the crowd. With more and more people going to University a degree is no longer the ‘golden ticket’ it once was, and I had to show potential employers that I could offer them that little bit extra in the employment bargain.
It certainly helped. After I Graduated I was invited to interview at Stafforce and had a plethora of examples to demonstrate my abilities during the recruitment process. Not only from my background in travelling or my time at University, but the experiences that work had given me.
Two weeks after my interview with Stafforce I found myself investing in a car and relocating to South Yorkshire, I was now ready to open the front door of Head Office and begin my internship not knowing where the opportunity would take me.
You are warned at University that the worst case scenarios of internships are being seen as the ‘tea carrier’ or sitting at a desk as the business doesn’t know how to utilize you effectively (see ‘The Living Dead’ by David Bolchover). This wasn’t the case at Stafforce Personnel. From day one I’ve been ‘one of the team’ who has been given the chance to grow and develop in to my role as I understand the business, its core values and the way it operates.
There are also advantages to businesses; including a new pair of eyes, fresh ideas and innovation. If fostered in the right environment an intern can challenge the status quo and question why existing practices happen; it creates that two way learning environment for both the intern and the business.
My role has given me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been able to go to sites, share my HR knowledge to the front line and even learn payroll practices at the company.
What I enjoy most is going to sites, meeting our team and seeing first-hand how my role can have an effect on their ability to do theirs. It has also provided me with perspective by being able to understand the context of the situations I have been asked to advise on.
Essentially, I will be a stronger HR professional at the end of my internship than when I started. My experiences so far have truly brought the theory of academia to life, evolved my views on working practice and have made me a more well-rounded individual in the workplace.
My advice to anyone seeking internships is to use the resources available to you and don’t give up; these are tough times and we have all faced some form of rejection in the past. It is important to channel that energy into your next enquiry letter, application or interview and persevere. Remember, if you plant those seeds now eventually one of them will blossom in to that healthy and vibrant career.