Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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

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