According to two Keuka College juniors, the Field Period internships they conducted in the human resource divisions of different global corporations were the best of times.
While she went to a Boston bio-tech company of 5,000, he went to the U.S. headquarters (Pittsburgh) of a global chemical corporation that employs 17,500 people. Both are juniors, both worked May – August 2013, and both were paid – an uncommon occurrence in the arena of collegiate internships.
She is Sini Ngobese, a business and organizational communication major from Durban, South Africa. He is Devon Locher, a business major from Baden, Pa. Both students are pursuing human resources (HR) concentrations in their business majors, while Locher’s second concentration is in marketing. While Ngobese conducted her Field Period at Biogen Idec, Locher conducted his at Lanxess, a corporation focused on development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber and specialty chemicals. While she researched best-practice policies for redrafting an internal human resources (HR) manual, he worked on internal surveys covering employee and international intern integration into the city and company culture.
Locher said he was able to visit a production site in Ohio once which allowed him to see some of the manufacturing side of the company – with its setting and safety protocols – as well as the corporate side. The Pittsburgh workplace was positive and upbeat, he said, and while Locher already conducted two HR-related field periods, confirming that HR is the field he wants to work in, his two prior internships were at much smaller corporations.
At a prior Field Period, Locher learned he didn’t enjoy accounting work, but at Lanxess, no two days were ever the same,” he said. “There was always something different going on, even if some of the tasks were the same. That’s what I liked about it.”
In addition to developing what turned out to be a 30-page PowerPoint for managers to review, Locher also researched other company plans to ensure affirmative action laws and other HR standards comply with a wide variety of state and federal guidelines.
“I learned a lot through research,” Locher said. “I think that’s why Keuka does the Field Period, because you can only do so much in the classroom and then you have to get out out there and work and see how it applies.”
According to Ngobese, Biogen Idec is the second largest bio-tech company in the world, manufacturing drugs for those suffering from autoimmune diseases. Ngobese was stationed in its Weston branch office, although the company has locations “all over the globe,” she said.
Ngobese said her duties focused on the capture and synchronization of all U.S., European, and Canadian HR policies, to be shared on a new self-service portal for employees.
“It was, by far, the greatest career experience I’ve had thus far and truly fulfilled what the Field Period mission and vision strives to achieve,” said Ngobese. In addition to confirming her career aspirations and the type of company culture she hopes to find, Ngobese said her Field Period also helped her find a professional role model: Elizabeth Abbott, her supervisor.
“All of us were “wowed” by Sini’s professionalism, communication, work ethic and work product,” said Abbott. “Sini has many strengths, but her ability to communicate effectively, professionally, clearly, and persuasively in both written and oral communications is what really stands out to me. I was proud to have her represent my department and proud to call her a member of my team. She will be a strong contributor, I believe, wherever she goes.”
Thanks to Abbott, Ngobese said she now knows exactly what kind of female leader she wants to be, and has a clear sense what future purpose she can have within the HR field. She befriended other HR interns and was able to benchmark herself against those coming from bigger schools and gain confidence that she could still hold her own with them. The experience was so fulfilling, Ngobese may be invited to return to intern a second time, and if so, that would be in the company’s Cambridge, Mass., offices where the HR department will be moved.
“It was intrinsically rewarding in that it truly helped me see that this is what I want to do as a career for the rest of my life,” she said. “I woke up thrilled to go to work and that really was an amazing experience for me.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the eighth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Halie Squires ’13 of Parish, N.Y., earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in occupational sciences and is continuing at Keuka to pursue her master’s degree in occupational therapy.
She’s currently completing the first of two 12-week fieldwork placements for hands-on experience in both traditional and non-traditional OT environments. Her current post is at a short-term rehab facility in Saratoga Springs, and when that concludes, she’ll return to campus for another semester of studies.
Squires said she is most thankful for the professionalism developed through Keuka’s Field Period program.
“After eight Field Periods or fieldwork placements, I feel as if I can carry myself with respect in a professional place of employment and communicate effectively and assuredly,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the third in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Emily Ekstrom ’13 graduated cum laude with a B.S. in education and has accepted a post as a special education teacher serving grades 3-5 at Holiday Park School in Phoenix, Ariz.
During her four years at Keuka, the Ashville, N.Y. resident participated in the Equestrian and Education clubs, worked as a lifeguard and also as a facilitator for the Teamworks! Adventure course, served on Student Senate and was vice-president of Sigma Lambda Sigma, Keuka’s college-wide honor society.
“Although I have never done a Field Period at the school, my previous Field Periods have helped,” she said, referring to Keuka’s required 140-hour annual internship. “As much as I hated the paper work, I loved my Field Periods and all the experiences I gained from them.”
Ekstrom’s prior Field Period internships included a third-grade inclusion classroom in Bowling Green, Va., a 4-H summer camp in Long Island, N.Y., a month in two different special education classrooms at Chautauqua Central School, and a fourth-grade classroom in Falconer, N.Y.
Ekstrom added that another bonus was the support from close personal ties at Keuka, such as those she found in the division of education, via a mentor affiliated with the Teamworks! Adventure course and the College chaplain.
At Keuka College, experiential learning is a core focus and the 140-hour annual Field Period internship is one of the primary arenas where hands-on learning comes into play.
Each year, one freshman and one upperclassman earns Experiential Learner of the Year honors for demonstrating initiative, development of a broad and varied portfolio of work, and personal reflection on the skills learned during the Field Period experience.
The six nominees for 2012 were nominated by academic advisers, created a portfolio of work in essays, photographs and other media, and were honored at a luncheon April 27. During the May 5 Honors Convocation ceremony, the winners were named: freshman Lelia Torres of Stockton and sophomore Sarah Marquart of Auburn.
Torres’s first-time Field Period experience was quite a coup, as she was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP). (more…)