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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!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sadie Comes Back to Talent Acquisition

I have spent the majority of the last two weeks back in Talent Acquisition, but I also spent a couple of days job shadowing the Benefits, Compensation/Organizational Design, and Employee Relations divisions of the Indiana State Personnel Department. Having nearly 30,000 employees working for the state of Indiana makes SPD very different from smaller and private sector companies. Every aspect of HR is specialized into a specific department in one centralized area. From what I’ve seen, many companies only have HR generalists who deals with all of these aspects by themselves, but within Indiana state government you have many people who are specialized in just one of the above mentioned areas as well as HR Generalists to resourcefully handle all of HR related issues within the state agencies.

Having all of these specialized HR divisions makes things very interesting. During my time with the Compensation/Organizational Design division, I learned that what they do is very complicated. They classify jobs, and determine what each individual position should be paid based upon the role’s responsibilities, 
requirements, supervision, and decision making. This is definitely not a simple task. It takes a large amount of research and investigation to determine what employees should be compensated in return for the work that they do.

The world of Benefits Administration is another piece of HR that can get very complicated as well. They stay busy everyday by helping employees with needs related to their benefits package. Those who work in the Benefits division have to have a large amount of knowledge on the benefits packages and how they work. With this knowledge they are able to help employees in selecting the right package that fits their needs, make status changes to their benefits, and ensure that employees are following their tobacco use agreement. The tobacco use agreement is a wellness initiative that asks employees who are non-smokers to sign a contract saying they will not partake in any tobacco use and in return, these employees pay a lower bi-weekly healthcare premium.

I also spent time within the Employee Relations division which was very interesting to me. They get to deal with situations related to family medical leave (FML), performance evaluations, employee investigations, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Affirmative Action, and discrimination claims among other things. They are the liaison for the employees and the agencies. Personally, I consider this to be the “fun stuff.”

With Talent Acquisition, I learned about sourcing for candidates and I got to participate in the interviews for the fall HR internship program. Additionally, I was asked to source for an IT Project Manager position for one of the Recruitment Consultants. When the applications start pouring in, it’s a great feeling knowing that you were the one that put the word out there, and hopefully one of the applicants will be a perfect match for the open position.

As an intern, we get to participate in a speaker series throughout the summer. This week we got the privilege to hear two very important people speak. The first speaker was Rebecca Kubacki, District 22 State Representative, and the second speaker was none other than Governor Mike Pence himself! These were both wonderful opportunities that I would have never been exposed to had I not been in this internship. Check out our picture with the Governor!

I am super excited about spending my next two weeks with the Department of Corrections!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Intern Karen Starts at SPD!

Hey, everybody! I’m Karen Byrd, and I’m one of the summer interns at the State Personnel Department this year. I’m so happy to have been chosen to participate in this internship – it’s truly a unique opportunity to get some hands-on human resources experience, something hard to come by in the academic world.

After getting a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University, I moved to Indiana when I was accepted to the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Master’s program at IUPUI.  I/O Psychology can best be described as “psychological principles as applied to human resources.” We study topics relevant to HR – like engagement, training, performance manag
ement, and compensation – and investigate what psychological principles can be used to better manage employees.  I’m really passionate about the topic, and I was really thrilled when I learned that psychology could have real-world applications that didn’t involve therapy.

As wonderful as the program was, it was intensely research-focused, and provided students with almost zero HR knowledge or hands-on experience. To counteract this, and to have something concrete to put on my resume after graduation, I completed several internships during my time at school. Despite the internships taking place at I/O consulting firms, there was precious little that interns were allowed to do – much of the consulting work in this field is either highly technical or involves talking to clients, and most firms were less than comfortable with letting students do those tasks. What this meant for me was that I spent most of the internships filling in spreadsheets and trying to look busy. Even though I now had references and things to put on my resume under “Experience,” I still had no actual experience, and the program was ending soon. 

I began searching for full-time, entry-level HR positions around the city, and applied for several with the federal government. Someone recommended to me that I should check into state government as well. So I went searching for positions with the state of Indiana and came across the Talent Acquisition internship. I applied, interviewed, and now, here I am!

This internship is nothing like any that I’ve had before. My previous internships primarily involved twiddling my thumbs, but that’s definitely not the case with this internship. In the first two weeks alone, I’ve done more hands-on work and learned more about what I’ll actually be doing in an HR job than I have during all of my other internships combined. I’ve had the opportunity to source jobs, learn new software, job shadow in several departments, check references, and verify education. I’ve been exposed to the initiatives of the upper managers and asked to participate in them. I’ll represent the department at local job fairs and summer festivals when they roll around. And we haven’t even begun rotating to the other departments I’ll visit yet!

Needless today, I’m insanely glad I sought out and found this opportunity. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn throughout the rest of my time here!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sadie Works with DWD

I had the pleasure of spending the last two weeks learning with the HR ladies of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD). While I was in DWD, I worked with their recruiter to put together a toolkit for the hiring managers in the WorkOne field offices. WorkOne centers are a huge part of DWD’s system and are facilities that try to get unemployed or underemployed people back into the workforce. They help people seek jobs, get information for learning opportunities, get the right skills they need for a new career, and help them file their unemployment. While I was with DWD I had the opportunity to visit one of the busiest WorkOne centers in the state. We went to get a better understanding of the job duties and skills needed for the positions within the facilities. The information that we received will be used to develop better job descriptions for the positions, as well as help in the creation of interview questions to assist hiring managers with their hiring process to ensure they are hiring the right person for each position.

These new job descriptions and interview questions are going to be put in the new toolkit I have been working on for the hiring managers. The managers are going to be able to use the toolkit to help them through each step of the hiring process. There is information in there from how to submit a request for a new position, to reference checking, to interviewing information. This toolkit should hopefully alleviate quite a few questions that the managers have when hiring new employees.

Working with DWD has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I never realized just how much work went into hiring a new employee. Thanks to the wonderful HR staff in DWD and their recruiter, I now feel that I have many tools that I can take with me when I enter the HR world. I’m excited to get back to SPD for my next two weeks. Among other things, I will be job shadowing benefits, compensation, and employee relations. This should be very interesting!