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Friday, October 24, 2014

SPD Welcomes Intern Michella!

Hello everyone! I’m Michella Jameson and I am the fall intern at the Indiana State Personnel Department. I am excited to share my experiences through this blog. I am not a traditional college student. In fact, I am a middle-aged college student! Going back to school has been an adventure and one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I spent many years moving from state to state, following my husband’s career. During those years of moving, I was raising four wonderful children. I was also working part-time at many different jobs in many different industries. When I decided to complete my degree, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to make a difference at the heart of the business world. So how do you bring heart to business? You earn a degree in HR! I am currently a senior at Kelley School of Business, Indianapolis where I will graduate in May, 2015 with a degree in Human Resources, Management, and International Studies.

I learned about this internship through a professor at school. She expressed what a great opportunity it was and I agreed. I was worried that an internship meant doing a lot of clerical or filing work, but this one promised real experience as you rotated through several different agencies throughout state government. I immediately applied and was called in for an interview. During the interview I met with Heather Whitaker, Chanel Gillies, and a summer intern. It was a great conversation that had me crossing my fingers hoping I would get the job. A couple of weeks later I was able to interview with the SPD Talent Acquisition Director, Nicole Russell. This interview was done over Skype, which was something different and new for me.

I am coming up on my third week with the SPD. During my first week I was been able to job shadow compensation, benefits, and employee relations. Each department within SPD is specialized and very different. I enjoyed learning more about each area as it gave me the opportunity to get a feel for what it might be like to have a career in that department. For the past two weeks I have been helping Talent Acquisition with some projects within PeopleSoft. I cannot express enough what a valuable opportunity it has been to spend some time getting to know this HRMS program. One of the projects I worked on was creating sourcing links for the Indiana Department of Correction webpage. These links will allow the DOC to post an immediate link of all location specific job openings to the State of Indiana job bank.

Next week I am headed to the Indiana State Museum where I will spend two weeks working on some new projects. I am sad to leave SPD’s Central Office, as they have all been so nice and welcoming. But I am excited to learn more and just maybe I will be able to have some fun at the museum! Check back in a couple of weeks for my continued adventures.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Karen Visits FSSA!

I’ve spent the last three weeks in FSSA, the Family and Social Services Administration. This agency is responsible for distributing funds to care providers for children, the aging, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations in Indiana.  Like, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Child Services, FSSA is a very large agency with many, many employees and widespread locations.

Much of the agency’s workforce is retiring in the next five to seven years, and some key positions will lose many employees all at once. To prevent a crisis, FSSA is recruiting a large volume of people to fill the positions that will become vacant in the near future. In addition to current positions becoming open due to retirement, many new positions have been created and approved, and these too must be filled.

My main project during this rotation was to source for one particular position at dozens of schools and job sites. Thirty Disability Claims Adjudicator positions are open, and they need to be filled as quickly as possible. Because of this, I posted jobs as school and job boards based in other states as well as Indiana, and opened the position up for all majors and areas of study to get the maximum number of applicants. My other project during this rotation was updating employee information in PeopleSoft, which helped me get more familiar with the program and its capabilities.

The main lesson I learned at this agency was how important it is to be aware of who is in your workforce and when and how they might leave. If you don’t stay on top of this as an HR professional, you could end up with a large number of vacancies in key business areas, and your business will almost certainly be negatively affected.  It was also interesting to learn how difficult it truly is to get a qualified pool of applicants to apply for one open position, let alone 30. To get 30 qualified applicants, we’d probably need a few hundred general applications! This taught me that there’s much more to hiring than simply going through applications and choosing the right candidate – getting a pool of good applicants is a challenge all in itself.

Sadie works with Small Field Ops and AGO!

The past three weeks I have spent my time with the Small Agency Field Operations division. As I’m sure you can guess this division is responsible for many small agencies with the State of Indiana ranging from one single employee to about 300 employees per agency.  I had the pleasure of working with the HR Generalists for the Department of Education and the Adjutant Generals Office. Both of these were very different experiences, but both extremely educational.

The HR generalist for the Department of Education (DOE) just recently promoted into this position from another HR Generalist position within the State Personnel Department. In her new role, she is also responsible for a few other agencies but DOE is her biggest. While she was getting settled in and getting familiar with her new agencies, I helped her with numerous things to get started. The first thing I did was update all of her offer letters so that they would be specific to DOE. Then I put together a letter for her to send out to supervisors when they have a new employee starting with them. The letter included information such as a start date, starting salary, where the employee will be their first two days on the job, what equipment they will be receiving, and what badge access they will have. This, to me, was a great letter for the supervisors to have so that they are not in the dark about what is happening with their new employee.

The big project that we tackled was the DOE OnBoarding packet. When an employee starts, they have a full day of OnBoarding with the state. In addition, they also have OnBoarding their second day for DOE specific information. There was information in the packet that had not been revised in quite some time, so we went through all of the documents and updated them. There were policies that had changed, new employees that needed to be added to the contact list, and information that didn’t need to be in there at all. This was a great way for me to learn about reading and updating policies, as well as knowing more about DOE’s OnBoarding process.

I learned so much about day to day activities that happen in HR, as well as how to deal with employee relations matters. I had some experience with employee relations when I was with the Department of Health, but it was nice to see how different people handle different situations. It really gives you an idea of the steps that you need to take for discipline, and how to gauge if the discipline fits the situation. Everything I learned will be nice to take with me in my future with HR.

After I was done with DOE, I spent a week at Camp Atterbury working with the Adjutant Generals Office (AGO). I met with the AGO’s HR Generalist to discuss what I would be doing during this rotation. She told me that I would be job shadowing the gun range target technicians so that I could fill out a Job Analysis Questionnaire (JAQ) for them in order to get their job reclassified. The JAQ consists of questions such as what duties you perform, what responsibilities you have, and what kind of working conditions you have to endure. They are looking to get this position reclassified because there is so much technology and new work that has been assigned to this position over the past ten plus years since it was last reclassified.

I had a wonderful experience while working with the target tech crew. Their job has so many aspects to it that I don’t know how they manage to get everything done. They maintain thousands of electronic remote targets on 62 gun ranges. These ranges vary in size from less than an acre to 3 miles long. Not only do they have to make sure all of the targets and all electrical work is running properly, they also have to mow and upkeep the ground maintenance for all 62 ranges and the roads and trails that lead to the ranges. The sheer volume of maintenance that they have to do is astounding, but they manage to keep everything in perfect working condition so that military units, law enforcement, and civilians can get all of the proper training they need for real life combat or hostile situations.

The target tech’s main goal is safety. They are responsible for the safety of themselves and their coworkers while they are working on the ranges. They also supervise a crew of offenders from the Edinburgh Correctional Facility whose safety they are responsible. They have to ensure the offenders are using equipment properly as well as wearing the correct protective gear while they are running the equipment. Their job also requires them to run scenarios through a software program to ensure that everyone is getting the proper training they need on the ranges. Without the proper training, the military units or law enforcement teams could be put into real life situations that they may not know how to handle. These workers are dedicated to the safety of others and will do whatever is required of them if it means saving a life.

Aside from all of the insects and rodents I encountered, I had a fantastic experience at Camp Atterbury. I saw a total of 13 deer, 4 of which were babies, learned a vast amount about the military and how they train, and met some really wonderful people. I also want to say that I got to drive an old Army fire tank. The target techs use it if they have a brush fire or need to put a fire out on one of the ranges. That tank was huge and driving it was probably one of the coolest things that I have ever done. I had a great week full of excitement that I will never forget.

My internship is winding down and I will be spending my last week back with the Talent Acquisition Division!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Karen works with the Department of Child Services!

My most recent rotation was at the Department of Children Services. The department is responsible for protecting children from abuse and neglect, and provides child support enforcement and adoption and foster care services for the state of Indiana. For the first week, I shadowed the Director of Human Resources here at DCS. Having just taken the position a few weeks before, she was still gathering information about the state of the department and trying to determine how things worked and she brought me in on several meetings.

She gave me access to the DCS intranet – a place where DCS employees can go to get information, forms, and links for the policies and best practices handed down by the agency. My first assignment was cataloguing and organizing the information from the site and sending this information to the HR Director. She wanted to know exactly what was already included on the site so she could get a better idea of what needed to be added. I went through each page on the site – though I focused primarily on the human resources section – and made note of everything I saw there.

My next assignment involved EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and SEAC (State Employee Appeals Commission) complaints filed in the agency. This information had been previously compiled in a word document, but it wasn’t easy to read and it was often hard to tell what information was missing. I created an Excel database that catalogued the complaints by employee name, date, type of complaint, and the status of the complaint.

At DCS, I learned first-hand about how the momentum of a large organization can sometimes make it challenging to keep track of many moving parts. This is an issue that everyone will have to contend with in their professional career, it was great to get first-hand experience with tactfully suggesting changes while being respectful of the realities of the organization. I appreciate learning these lessons early in my career.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sadie Visits the Indiana State Department of Health!

My time with the HR team embedded within the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has been a very hands-on, interactive experience. I have been able to shadow the two HR Generalists to see first-hand what their everyday duties entail. It has been incredibly educational to see some of the issues that they have to deal with from one week to the next.

The first HR Generalist I was able to shadow is classified as an HR Generalist 2. He is responsible for most of the behind-the-scenes PeopleSoft magic when hiring new employees, running background checks, terminating employees, and so on. While working with this Generalist, I was able to send out automated offer letters and then prepare these candidates for hire within PeopleSoft. He showed me how to do the first one, coached me through a second, and then the third I did on my own. I have been through PeopleSoft training on how to do these tasks, but it was so nice to be able to actually do the process myself. This particular Generalist is also responsible for new hire orientation. During the two weeks that I was there, ISDH had five new employees and I was able to sit in on orientation to watch the process. This was also another great hands-on experience for me.

The other HR Generalist at ISDH is classified as an HR Generalist 1 which is a more senior- level position. This Generalist has a whole other set of tasks to handle on a daily basis. While shadowing this particular Generalist, I got to listen to a number of employee relation issues. Not only was I able to listen to the kind of issues that happen in this agency, I was also able to see the steps that they take to resolve those issues. In the short time I was there, I got to see different pieces of performance management including a Work Improvement Plan, a written reprimand, and a suspension. The HRG1 took me through the steps on how to document a suspension and a written reprimand, and also told me about the significance of having one of these on your record especially when it comes to layoffs. I was also able to shadow her on meetings related to succession planning and development plans. Before she went over this, I didn’t know much about these topics, and now I feel like an expert with the wealth of knowledge that she provided me.

While at ISDH I was also responsible for a few projects that included obtaining the working titles of positions from job descriptions, creating an FML guide with tips for the hiring managers to follow when their employees need to take time off, and a termination filing project. It was nice having smaller projects to do that were combined with the job shadowing of the HR Generalists. I also went through a Selection and Interviewing training for hiring managers presented by the ISDH Recruitment Consultant. This training was super informative on the interview process and what types of questions to ask and not to ask. As an additional training  opportunity, I was able to speak with an ISDH Director to learn more about what process she goes through when hiring a new employee, and how she sorts out the candidates in order to make the right choice for each position. She was able to provide me with plenty of knowledge on what she looks for when hiring a new employee.

Now, I know you are all wondering who this week’s Intern Speaker Series guest speaker was, and it was none other than the Indiana State Police Superintendant Doug Carter! He was a great motivational speaker that urged us to get out in our communities and make them a better place. He told us to encourage kindness, because the little things that we do in life can change the world.

I will spend my next two weeks with the Small Agency Field Operations group! This should be fun!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Karen goes to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles!

I’ve spent the last two weeks with the HR team within the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This agency is responsible for all vehicle registrations and documentation for the entire state of Indiana, and has dozens of branches across the state. Being a large agency with many employees and strict performance standards, the department has a lot of data stored about the performance of employees. There was a wealth of information about employee resignations, firings, retirements, demotions, transfers, and other events, and it was this data that I was tasked with analyzing and presenting.

My project consisted of answering three questions: what events led to employees being fired and/or declared Not Eligible for Rehire? Were disciplinary actions that an employee received reflected in their annual performance ratings? What was the eventual fate of employees who were performing below acceptable standards?

To answer these questions, I set about gathering data on employee turnover, discipline, and performance for the past five years. After obtaining the data from the director, I organized it into a spreadsheet, then assigned numerical values to each of the data points so that they could be analyzed using statistical software. Although the actual data analysis is a very fast process, organizing the data into a usable form is a very time-consuming process, and the entire first week was dedicated to preparing the data for examination. There was definitely a valuable lesson learned here – the real world is nothing like school, and the data you get will have to be placed in the form I need it in. It was definitely a more involved process than I had originally thought!

Once the data was ready, I ran it through statistical software to try and answer the questions. While some of the questions were very straightforward and easy to answer, others were not. I set about preparing a presentation that would make the results clear in a way that people without a statistical background could easily understand. After this presentation was prepared, I presented it to the branch managers at a meeting.

I learned several valuable lessons while completing this project and one of the most important was how to present statistical information in terms people were familiar with. Although I’m very comfortable using statistics, I had never been tasked with presenting to an audience outside of academia, and the experience of doing so was very valuable. This rotation was a wonderful learning experience for me. 

Sadie goes to the Department of Correction!

The Department of Correction is a pretty exciting place! The two weeks I spent with IDOC flew by, but I had a wonderful experience with the HR team. Every person I met was so friendly and full of knowledge. While I was there, I had the amazing opportunity to go tour New Castle Correctional Facility. I have never been to a prison before, so this was a really cool chance for me to experience something new. I was very impressed by their operation and security that they have put into place. I told everyone I know about my visit, and it is truly something that I will never forget.

Although my prison tour was definitely the highlight of my rotation with IDOC, I also did HR related projects which of course was the reason I was there. The project I put together for IDOC included compiling information for two spreadsheets that should greatly assist with the recruitment efforts for this agency. One spreadsheet contained main contacts for each college campus in Indiana that had majors that would correlate to jobs within IDOC. Some of these majors included Criminal Justice, Political Science, Social Work, and Civil Engineering. For each of these majors, I included the main contact person to distribute job openings within IDOC that were close to their campus. I referenced which IDOC facility was the closest to each one of these campuses and the approximate distance in miles. I was able to identify roughly 65 campuses in Indiana for which IDOC could advertise their job openings.

The second spreadsheet I put together included upcoming job fairs that IDOC might be interested in attending. These included college job fairs as well as community job fairs that focus on hiring veterans and military. I tried to obtain as much information as possible such as the fee for attending each job fair, when it would be held, and who they could contact for more information. I also included links for registration should they were interested in going. This was a really extensive project that I hope will be very helpful to IDOC.

I was able to sit in on an IDOC HR staff meeting. During this meeting, representatives from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and Hero 2 Hired talked to us about USERRA. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (or USERRA) is a topic that was covered briefly in one of my classes, but I did not know much about. After their presentation, I feel as though I know almost everything there is to know about the law, as well as the resources I need in case I have questions about it. This was a very informative session that I am grateful to have been a part of.

Because I’m a Governor’s Summer Intern, I also got the unique opportunity to tour the Statehouse. I have been in the Statehouse a couple of times previous to this, but this time I got to go into the Lt. Governor’s Office, the Indiana Supreme Court Room, and the Indiana State Senate Chamber. When the tour was complete, we met with Chief Justice Dickson to learn more about his job.  The intern speaker series is one of my favorite parts of being an intern. We also got to hear from Mark Newman who is the Director of Tourism for Indiana, and Jamal Smith the Director of the Civil Rights Commission. These were both great speakers. Mark’s job is super cool. Who knew there were so many things to do in Indiana?  Take a look at Visit Indiana.  Jamal has a very interesting job as well. One of the benefits of working for the Civil Rights Commission is to prevent discrimination of any and all protected classes under the Civil Rights Act. I found it to be a very appealing place to work.

Next, I am off to the Indiana State Department of Health. Stay tuned to learn about my time with ISDH!