Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Daily Operations - by Joshua Fox

After my rotation with the Indiana State Department of Health, where I witnessed and learned the daily operations of a human resources department, I began working with small field operations, which handles human resources issues for departments that have centralized. As my fellow intern has previously stated, the strategic centralization effort by the State of Indiana has transformed the way departments perform HR functions. The efficiency is truly remarkable. During my previous blog, I conveyed that one of the most useful skills I have developed during my time with the State was my ability to multitask. This proved to be useful in the next area of my rotation. Working in Small Field Operations at the State of Indiana requires making a sincere effort everyday prioritizing tasks and balancing interests. Although this department is fast-paced and innovative, I felt very comfortable asking my mentors questions or for clarification at any time, and learned a tremendous amount.

Staying with the theme of innovation and improvement, my next project involved utilizing a previously foreign aspect of our HRIS, in order to progress our ability to appraise our employees. After compiling extensive position data into a database, and testing different approval paths based on organizational structure, a strategy was developed in order to introduce the software to multiple agencies.
Each generalist in small field operations has several agencies that he/she performs services on behalf of. It was remarkable to see the balance that had to be displayed in order to satisfactorily manage all interested parties. This also gave me an insight as to how recruiting and other human resources strategies are modified and personalized to fit each department’s needs.

My rotation in small field operations clarified my career goals, as I now know I want to seek a career as an HR generalist, rather than a specialist. Managing different interests requires prioritization and planning while organizing multiple projects. Furthermore, every day is different than the previous one. In my mind, the prospect of coming to work everyday, not knowing what to expect, is truly exciting.

An Intern's Reflection - by Harsh Patel

As I am quickly approaching my last day here at SPD, I am feeling grateful and reflecting on all the interesting experiences I have had here. As I reflect upon the last month, I feel incredibly proud of my accomplishments and the breadth of projects I have had the chance to participate in. During my time here with Employee Relations and Department of Natural Resources, I have gained experience and knowledge of various policies and procedure in government settings. For this reason, I would like to thank the Employee Relations division and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for extending me an opportunity to work with them and learn great things while allowing me to utilize and build on my skills. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to these divisions and employees for enhancing my internship experience with SPD and sincerely appreciate their time and the opportunity to work with them.

While working with Employee Relations for two weeks, I spent most of my time obtaining knowledge of remote work (telework/work-from-home) situations, policies, and procedures to assist in preparing a remote work policy. It was interesting to work on this project because a work-from-home policy sparked a debate in the media after Yahoo ended a work-from-home policy followed by Best Buy on the issue of productivity and team work.

After working nearly 50 hours, I was able to complete my project which consisted of a 17 page report about a remote work policy and a state-wide implementation plan based on research from other federal and state agencies. This project enhanced my research, planning, policy/procedure writing, and presentation skills. Additionally I learned remote work processes and management, and knowledge of policy and procedure language used in government settings.

My experience with DNR was also memorable and I had the chance to work on various HR related projects like reviewing, formatting, and updating the new employee manual, training check-list and orientation for Indiana’s Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. While working on the new employee training check-list, I learned how this training helps the park’s employees to respond effectively during emergency situations that arise on State parks and reservoirs. Furthermore, I updated the employee manual that can be used by all State parks and reservoirs employees and summarized their primary duties and responsibilities. Moreover, my last project was to create a presentation for new State parks and reservoirs employees that address safety, customer service, radio and vehicle use, payroll and many other important issues to help them achieve their organizational goals and maintain a safe working environment.

My Internship projects so far have resembled real world experience while at the same time applying lessons and theory learned in the classroom to find practical solutions. Applying theory to actual working situations has helped me to gain a deeper understanding of my business discipline. Through an internship like mine, students are better prepared for employment and graduate school. Moreover, employers are also looking for students with real world experience and many employers use internships as a means to recruit future employees.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Joshua Fox: A Two Component Internship

Hello everyone! I am excited to be talking to you all again to detail my experiences with the Indiana State Personnel Department! I am very enthusiastic to tell you about my incredibly diverse experiences during my internship. My employment can be described as having two different components; job shadowing, and project -based assignments. Each of which have given me experience completing assignments that will be revered by potential employers.

After completing my first rotation working at headquarters with SPD, I began working in the Human Resources Department at the IndianaState Health Department. This invaluable experience enabled me to witness firsthand what it takes to create a positive organizational culture, develop practical employee policies, and run day-to-day human resources operations. My individual projects consisted of ensuring I-9 federal compliance for all Indiana State health employees and maintaining employee record compliance. Additionally, I assisted in the recruiting process by conducting background checks and observed practical applications of Human Resources theory to solve employee relations issues

One of the most useful skills that I have attained during my internship is the ability to multitask. Throughout my internship, I developed the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time. In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed. Sometimes having up to seven projects at one time, I quickly had to learn how to prioritize and use my time efficiently. These are incredibly useful skills and are highly desired by employers.
Some of the most valuable and memorable experiences of my internship come from employee training classes. Hearing my fellow employees’ experiences about the various topics that were discussed framed our lessons in a manner that I felt heavily pertained to real life work experiences. I had the benefit of learning through extensively planned course material, as well as personal employee experiences.  Along with courses that I have taken through Indiana University, these classes have truly prepared me for my career. 

Harsh Patel: My Intern Experience at DOC

My spring internship is an invaluable experience that offers me the opportunity not only to gain relevant career skills, but also to expand my knowledge in the field of HR. I spent my four weeks with Indiana Departmentof Correction (IDOC)-a fantastic government agency with very helpful, energetic, and welcoming staff members. IDOC has 26 correctional facilities across the state, and their mission is to advance public safety and successful re-entry through dynamic supervision, programming, and partnerships. As the model of public safety, they return productive citizens to our communities and support a culture of inspiration, collaboration, and achievement. 

My mentor is the HR director at IDOC and regularly took time out of his busy schedule and helped me in my projects. Often, I had the chance to walk in his office and job shadow him to understand the HR world from his perspective. He also involved me in an Executive meeting with all correctional facility HR managers from across the state, and helped me understand the roles and duties of HR personnel, and day-to-day challenges they face in achieving IDOC’s goals and ambitions. The HR Director introduced me to his executive staff on my first day at IDOC and as a result, during the meeting everybody personally welcomed me. I felt privileged to be recognized by his executive staff. In the meeting, I got the chance to experience intellectual dialogue that takes place in a high-level executive meeting.

IDOC’s staff members were equally welcoming, helpful, and friendly. They respected me as an intern and made me feel like an IDOC employee. They were always readily available to answer my questions and often guided me on my projects. I was introduced to many other staff members at IDOC and they helped me to make new professional connections there. Every day they did everything that could to be helpful to me and it just made my work that much more fun.

Here are some of the real world projects I proudly worked on and yes, I had the complete freedom to choose and work on those projects as I liked. My first project includes creating a dashboard that updates on its own in real time. The dashboard contains HR related data for all facilities across the states that helps management gain a deeper understanding of its operations and make relevant decisions. Previously, we had to manually feed information into the main dashboard that summarizes all the facilities data; however, after writing formulas for the agency’s main HR dashboard, I was able to make roll data from all facility dashboards to the agency’s main HR dashboard automatically on its own and get updated every time it’s accessed. I’m excited to complete this project that will save time and make IDOC operations more efficient.

My second project was to work on capturing 1st year correctional officer turnover rates and reasons by communicating with all facility managers. The successful completion of this project is intended to help management better understand the turnover rates and primarily reasons behind turnover rates. This data will also help them find ways to keep retention rates high by taking steps like boosting employee morale, offering new incentives, and many other ways that will help make IDOC more efficient in its operations by saving its valuable resources. This project primarily helped me increase my awareness about the importance of turnover rates in any business operations and its positive impacts on businesses. Keeping turnover rates low helps IDOC and any other business to be more competent, enhance their customer services, and positively affect its bottom line. My third project was on intermittent FML analysis to find out FML usage for each facility by showing the total number of employees, number of FML usage by month, and percentage of workforce on intermittent FML. This data will also reveal FML usage by correctional officer broken by their rank and their job shift. The goal of this project was to validate the usage of FML and make sure that it’s used as intended for a valid purpose and is not abused. I ran out of time before I could complete this project but I still learned a lot of new things about intermittent FML.

During the end of February, I was definitely not ready to leave, but I am pretty excited to go to a new government agency and learn about them. Now, I’m moving to Department of Natural Resources as part of my rotational internship program and learn how they provide HR services to 35 state parks across the state from their central office. I’m feeling lucky to be selected for this rotational internship program as I can learn about different government agencies and their working environment, best practices, and make new professional connections.

Thank you!

Harsh Patel