When I first heard about the ILR Credit Internship Program, I was interested in the nontraditional learning experience and thought it would be a fresh alternative to spending a semester taking classes at Cornell or studying abroad. I was also excited about the prospect of earning college credit through real work experience to supplement what I had been learning in the classroom. After receiving my first offer from General Electric, I was admittedly hesitant about spending a semester away from my friends, campus and college lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to.
Fortunately, I decided to accept this opportunity which has been one of the most uniquely rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career.
I have been interning at GE Power’s headquarters in Schenectady, NY for the past six months, as I extended my spring internship through the summer. My primary role has been recruitment of all hourly, skilled trades workers in GE’s nearly 920,000-square-foot production facility that manufactures steam turbines and generators for power plants across the globe.
I have gained a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of recruiting, selecting and onboarding new employees. I have also experienced the challenges HR professionals face finding talent for niche skill sets. Successful recruiting requires implementing HR and marketing tactics, such as traveling to community and college career fairs, holding information sessions at colleges and high schools, and posting advertisements for vacant positions in newspapers and on job search websites. My duties also include ensuring that GE satisfies compliance guidelines during the hiring process. This entails contacting qualified candidates, proctoring pre-employment assessments and serving as the HR representative during the in-person interviews. Finally, I am responsible for delivering prospective employees their offer letters, coordinating their drug screenings and background checks, and assisting with all steps of new hire registration and orientation.
One of my favorite aspects of my internship has been serving as the point of contact for new hires from when they apply to when they come on board. I have worked to establish a good rapport with new employees by maintaining prompt and thorough communication. Direct contact with prospective and new employees has strengthened my professionalism and dependability, which I know will be valuable long after my internship.
In addition to recruitment, I have gained exposure to the labor relations processes in a unionized workplace. I have assisted with the preparation for and documentation of grievance hearings, investigations, suspensions, and terminations. I have also assumed primary responsibility for maintaining and enforcing GE's attendance policy for its hourly employees.
As I am nearing the end of my internship, I earned full autonomy to conduct an investigation for an employee work rule violation. This experience required me to communicate with management, union representatives, and the employees involved in the incident in order to issue an appropriate discipline.
Additionally, I have broadened my network by joining two affinity groups dedicated to improving the culture of the Schenectady Campus. As intern chair of the Early Career Professional Organization, I planned and executed networking events to connect interns with GE’s early career population in Schenectady. Through Schenectady’s Culture Crew, I worked with the Facilities Operations Team to renovate the campus cafeteria to become a more contemporary and collaborative environment.
My credit internship at GE has been an invaluable experience for me, both professionally and personally. I have become more inquisitive, collaborative, and independent. I have witnessed how essential accountability is in this field, and exercised this firsthand by leading several assignments across different HR functions. This experience also confirmed my decision to pursue a career in Human Resources once I graduate next May. Most importantly, GE's dynamic workforce has sparked my interest to work in a manufacturing environment – a path I probably would never have considered without this opportunity.