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Internship with global manufacturing company teaches 3 lessons

Interns form new employee resource group

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

What comes to mind when you hear of Akron, Ohio? LeBron James? That’s what most people think of. At least that’s what came to my mind, until I applied to my summer internship.

This past May, I had the opportunity to relocate to Akron, Ohio to do my HR internship at a global manufacturing company. Not only was this my first professional internship but also the first time working in a corporate headquarters. On one hand, I was extremely excited about my first day and about meeting the other 141 interns but on the other hand, I was also nervous since I didn’t really know what to expect. The first day arrived and within a few hours I felt like I had been there for weeks. After meeting all the interns and university relations team during the onboarding session, my whole Global Talent Management team came to pick me up to meet me and take me for lunch; everyone was extremely nice and welcoming!

Interns wearing their college T-shirts

Looking back to the whole three-month experience, I believe the main three takeaways I am walking away with are: reach out to as many employees as possible, don’t be afraid to stand up for your different perspectives and ideas and fully immerse yourself in the company’s culture.

“Any advice before I start my summer internship?” This was the most frequently asked question I used as a way to prepare myself. I wish I could say I heard a wide variety of responses, but all the responses I got included the word “network” in it, and I underestimated the power of the word until I actually got to the headquarters. I started out by making one meet and greet meeting each week to meet somebody new in the company, but I quickly realized this was not enough. By my third week in the company, I was having about 5 meet and greets every week with people in a different floor, department or even a different building. I was surprised to notice how interesting it was to listen to the experiences of all these different people, which allowed me to learn and understand more about the business, company culture, industry and even about myself. These meet and greets didn’t only allow me to meet many talented and inspiring people, but these also introduced me to somebody who I can now proudly call a life mentor, Billy. From an initial meeting introducing ourselves to weekly check-ins and meaningful conversations about my career path, having Billy as a mentor definitely made my experience 10 times better. So now I will give you the same advice everyone gave me, network!

Ariana and her mentor

Next thing I learned is that instead of hesitating to speak up because you are “only an intern”, you should embrace your new, fresh and different ideas and perspectives. Maybe your co-workers have worked on a project for several weeks, months or even years and may not see what can seem obvious to you. That happened to me. One of the first things that I noticed when I started working at this company was that they had many different employee resource groups (ERGs), including: HOLA, Black Network, Women’s Network, Pride, NextGen and Veterans Association. Can you think of one that may be missing? As soon as I heard this list, I thought to myself, “where’s the ERG for employees with an Asian background?” I scheduled a meeting with the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and expressed interest in building this new ERG. From here, I formed a team of six interns, and we got to work. In less than a month, we were able to launch the company’s newest ERG, AIM (Asia, India & Middle East). So, never be afraid to speak up and propose ideas! The main feedback we got from executives we worked with was never to lose that enthusiastic, innovative and different approach to things.

Ariana in front of AIM sign

A company’s culture is one of the most important things I look at during a company search. To me this reflects the company’s “personality,” values and commitments, but it is also something you can’t figure out before actually working at the company. I don’t believe there is a good or bad culture, it’s simply about a connection or fit. In my case, I found myself working in a culture that did not fit my working style and pace very well. But it’s okay! That is the whole point of doing internships: learning. Learning what your working style is and what type of cultures and environments allow you to reach your fullest potential, and from there, being able to select a company that fit these preferences. This is the time to test the waters, so I encourage you to get out there, immerse yourself in the culture for a few months and learn more about the company, industry and yourself!

Ariana and friend from internship

Finally, there are just so many positive things you can get out of an internship but the main one for sure is learning. Apart from learning the importance of networking, speaking up and company culture, I truly believe my internship experience allowed me to grow personally and professionally and to develop more accurate career goals moving forward.


Ariana Loor is a junior from Ecuador pursuing a major in General Management with a focus in Human Resources Management.
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