|  October 29, 2013

Prepary Profile: A Summer Internship in Human Resources

We haven’t done a Prepary profile in a while and I’m really excited to share this one. I met Ariel when she was our team’s intern two summers ago. It was so amazing to have someone so bright, energetic, passionate, helpful, and of course super smart working alongside of our HR team.

To round out her experience, Ariel spent the next summer on the Human Resources team in the financial services industry (and landed a full time job after the summer too!) Read on to hear about her Summer Internship in Human Resources.

What made you interested in the Human Resources field?

I have always had an affinity for working with and understanding people – being a tour guide on campus, a leader in various organizations and majoring in Human & Organizational Development are just a few of my experiences that made me realize I could make a career out of something I was truly passionate about.

I also realized that understanding the culture and the needs of the business from an interpersonal perspective being able to create solutions to those needs was something that is really exciting to me; something that I would be excited to get out of bed for every morning.

How did you know you wanted to intern in the Financial Services industry?

A few reasons in particular. For one, the fast paced environment was appealing. The fact that I would be presented with new challenges each and every day represented the type of setting I knew I could thrive in. I also think that with financial services in particular a company is only as good as it’s people. I knew I wanted to be a part of a business’s success by attracting, motivating and building relationships with its greatest asset: its people.

What was the internship search process like? How did you find out about different opportunities?

A lot of the opportunities I discovered through word of mouth- whether that be Vanderbilt Alumni, family, friends etc. I also did a great deal of research online: Linkedin, job search websites and constantly staying on top of target company careers pages.

Once you found out about those opportunities, what was the application process like? What was the most difficult part?

At first the application process seemed overwhelming… I remember thinking “How am I going to do all of these cover letters and resumes plus keeping up my grades, going to information sessions and still having a social life?”. Organization is key to conquering this first step. Keeping an organized spreadsheet with deadlines, contacts and to-do’s was integral in staying on top of my priorities and feeling comfortable with the process.

When you started landing your interviews, what did you do to prepare?

I would sum it up into two words : Research and Practice. I created “Prep” documents for every company I was interviewing with – including all of the company research and specific aspects of the firm that I thought were important to touch on. I would look up the recent news associated with the company – where its strong points lie and where it has had some weaker spots. It was also key to understand how the business operated and how they made money – and most importantly how the company viewed its people. In terms of practice I created a master list of interview questions I thought I could get asked and planned out what I wanted to answer with.

Did you prepare for the right questions? Did any questions catch you totally off guard?

I think that it is inevitable to be caught off guard by questions because you never know everything the interviewer will ask. What is most important is to be prepared and to practice how to respond to difficult questions or questions that you have never been asked – have a few key themes in your head/ “one-liners” you want to convey about yourself – and most importantly: stay true to who you are!

What internship did you end up taking? What factored into that decision?

I decided on being apart of the Human Resources Summer Analyst Program at Citi. I knew I wanted to be in a formal program in a large global bank working with some of the best and the brightest. I also felt like the professionals who I met throughout the interview process were really invested in my development- it was a perfect fit.

What were the best parts about the internship? What was the most interesting?

One of the best parts of the summer was my team. From my first day on the job I felt like my team was invested in my learning and trusted me to work on high profile initiatives that would touch the whole firm.

What was the most challenging?

I think the most challenging part was coming to grips with how large the organization really is and acclimating to my first real “corporate” job.

What advice would you give someone who wants to intern or pursue a career in HR?

Understand that HR is not just about hiring, firing and being a “people person”. In order to be taken seriously it is imperitave to think with a business mindset. When proposing an idea always ask yourself “What value will this be adding to the business?”. You are the face of the company.

Never let anyone see you sweat and be professional and mature at all times. Also, don’t ever forget : a smile and positive attitude can go a long way.

What were the best resources you used in preparing for your interview process and summer?

I would say there are a few different levels to prepare.

The first level would be the basics: reading the Wall Street Journal/ staying up on the current news.

The second level would be: Really understanding what the job description means and what you will be actually doing on a day-to-day basis (you could find this out from professionals or asking interviewers).

The third level would be: really understanding yourself and your past experiences and how you can be a valuable asset to the firm.

What are you most excited about post-graduation?

I am most excited to be able to permanently live in Manhattan, be a member of the Citi team and go on foodie adventures!

What are the biggest lessons you learned from your internship search experience? 

There will be upsets along the way but instead of harping on them, it’s best to dissect the situation and use it as a learning experience. You may never know why some things happen and some things don’t but it is so important to stay consistantly positive.

Thank you Ariel for the great advice!!

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