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!

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