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Through the Looking-Glass and What the Intern Found There

AAEAAQAAAAAAAASlAAAAJGYyOTIyYWJlLWMyMWMtNGMyMy1hMGZkLTIzMzZhOWJkMjc4OA.jpgWhen first embarking on my hunt for a summer internship, I began by seeing if there was any in the area. Eventually, I set my sights on a few and decided to toss my hat in the ring. From the beginning, HNI stood out as my top choice due to online reviews, quirky job postings, and the numerous awards earned. From those few hints I was able to gather that this was a place I would enjoy spending my summer.

My initial thoughts were further emphasized during the interview. Even the furniture told me that this company was going somewhere and that I should quickly hop on for the ride. It wasn’t just white walls with the occasional fake plants and cubicles. It was about change, growth, and a little adventure.

So, who is HNI really?

Forward-thinking. Collaborative. Friendly. Laid-back. Those are just a few words I would use to describe the culture here at HNI. As a company it is made very apparent their eagerness to cultivate performance and growth, while also having a little bit of fun.

It is very refreshing to see how one another are supported not only by their team, but also their leadership. Throughout my time here I have never once met someone who wasn’t friendly or willing to answer any questions I might have. 

Coming in, I had no clue what to expect. This being my first internship I hadn’t had much experience with different cultures in a business environment. In the end, the culture here went greatly above what I had hoped for and allowed me to see what a healthy company can look like. Hopefully in the future I will be able to be a part of cultures like HNI’s or successfully implement one at my next place of work.

New Faces, New Places

This truly has been a summer of learning. I have learned things about HR, business, and most importantly how to win a fight against the scanner (yes, it will always be man vs. machine). Chiefly, HR is an ever-changing field, ranging from compliance to successfully managing the culture within a company. I have had the pleasure of being fully immersed in all aspects of HR through discussions with Benefits, HR audits, interviews, recruiting, and much more. Prior to this internship, I did not have much experience within these areas, so having these hands on experiences have opened my eyes to the reality and possibilities of what HR holds for me (I can't wait!)

Another important concept I have learned is the significance of a company's culture. Culture is built by the leadership; they are the ones who determine who your company ultimately is. It is very easy to claim that you care about your employees, but much more difficult to show it. A company’s culture is influenced by how you make your employees feel, how you show their value, and whether leadership battles in the trenches or watches sheepishly from above. Leadership sets the tone, but employees also play a key part. Employees have an opportunity to further develop this culture or to let it fizzle out. Culture not only is created by everyone, but also impacts everyone.

My advice to interns, take it or leave it.

The best advice I have ever received for an internship is to treat it like a long interview. Whether or not the company offers you a position following college graduation, all of the people you meet are possible opportunities for you in the future. If you are a poor performer, create drama, or are constantly late to work the people around you will take note and not recommend you for a job in the future.

Also, with respect to the people around you, take advantage of them. They are experienced people in your field, so ask them those questions you have, watch what they do, and observe how they interact with the different departments around them. Internships allow you to get hands on, test the waters, and ask every question under the sun. Nobody expects you to be perfect, so when you see shortcomings look at them as opportunities to grow. Weaknesses are always going to be there, but it is how you decide to handle them that counts. You want to leave being better than you were at the beginning. Use your time as an intern effectively by being eager to learn, but also being teachable. 

All in all, thank you HNI for the opportunities you have granted me this summer. Thank you to everyone who allowed me to tag along with them on client visits, sit in on meetings, and to all who made me feel welcomed during my stay. The knowledge and insight will be carried forth into my future endeavors within HR. You have helped me grow, encouraged me to ask questions, and have a little (or a lot!) of fun through it all. Most importantly, you have allowed me to realize being an adult doesn’t have to be that boring. Bring on the real world!


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