Intern Spotlight: Suzanne Knight

Suzanne Knight

Suzanne Knight (May 2013)
Major: Social Work
Minor: Health & Family Studies
Internship: Administrative Intern with the Juvenile Justice and Mental Health Divisions of the Rock County Department of Human Services


How did you find out about this internship? What interested you in the opportunity?

As a social work major, we are required to complete an internship for our last 12 credits before we graduate. I knew that I wanted to get the best experience that I could, as this would be my first time being in the social work field. I was interested in obtaining an internship that was unlike any experience that I have previously had. I wanted to gain experience and knowledge that I had not formerly had. I was interested in an internship in the Juvenile Justice division, because I did not know much about the juvenile justice piece of social work, and it was intriguing to me. I also wanted to complete an internship in administrative social work, because I am hoping to be an administrative social worker one day, after I receive my Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Leadership.

I found out about this internship through one of my professors who works very closely with my supervisor. She approached me about this internship, as she thought I would be a great fit for the position. I immediately contacted the agency, and the rest is history.

Describe your internship experience.

I have many responsibilities at my internship. I assist [my supervisor] Amanda with planning and executing Aggression Replacement Training (ART), which many social workers across the state attend. I sit on many committees within the County, such as the Coordinating Services Team committees and subcommittees. I am planning and executing a Peer Support Specialist informational meeting, which we are hoping to inform and recruit Peer Support Specialists from a variety of Mental Health and AODA clients in Rock County. This is an informational meeting that is open to the entire population, and it will be held at the end of March.

I research and help implement new, innovative ideas for both the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice divisions. Much of my research is being used currently within the system. I assisted in developing a new diversion program that is being implemented for both children and parents that face difficulties within their relationship whether it’s abuse, neglect, etc.

I assist with various tasks such as budget proposals and grant writing, among other various responsibilities. I assist the County with coordinating outside resources from the community to come in and speak with our Human Services Department Staff of over 150 employees about various issues, such as trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, how to implement evidence-based practice in their every day work, etc. I am currently in the process of putting together a resource manual that highlights the Juvenile Justice division and its various evidence-based programs. When completed, this manual will be presented to not only the entire Juvenile Justice division, but the Rock County Human Services Department board.

I also assist in the different programs that the Juvenile Justice division offers, such as Weekend Report and the Youth Services Center. At Weekend Report and the Youth Services Center, I assist the juvenile with whatever they may need, whether that is teaching them skills to better themselves in the community, moral reasoning, or just to lend them a helping hand. I also attend various conferences and trainings to improve my skills as a social worker. These conferences include the YES! Summit, which focused on trauma-informed care, and the Aggression Replacement Training (ART). I also sit in on the Rock County truancy meeting, where we meet with juveniles that are facing truancy issues from not attending school and develop ways to assist them. The goal of our truancy committee is to not only figure out the reason this student does not regularly attend school, but how we can provide the means for them to get to school.

All in all, I help out in the Rock County Human Services Department in any way that I can.

What have you learned during your internship experience? How does this opportunity relate to your career goals?

I have had many enriching experiences in my internship that will be useful when I am in the Social Work field. I have gained knowledge, skills and values that I truly believe I would not have gained without this internship. I have learned how to effectively work with individuals, groups, communities and other organizations. I have learned what it is like to work in a professional environment, and how important communication and other various skills are in being successful in the field. I have gained skills in management and administration that will be of assistance in my future endeavors in the social work field.

The administrative opportunity that I have been given in social work is directly related to my future career path. I will be attending graduate school, majoring in Social Work, with an emphasis in Leadership, in hopes to be an administrative social worker. I hope to be a director of a non-profit organization one day, so having this experience in an administrative setting will be beneficial in many ways.

What advice would you give other students about internships?

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes internships can be intimidating, because for most people, an internship is the first time that a student will get experience in their field of study. To many, including myself, this is intimidating because it can lead to many unknowns.

Ask your internship supervisor questions. Many times supervisors will throw you right in the deep end, just to see if you can float. At first, this can be threatening, but it will test your knowledge and skills that you have gained in preparation for an internship, whether it be through classes, organizations, etc. Supervisors enjoy when their interns ask questions, so do not be afraid to do so. Furthermore, supervisors do not expect their interns to know how to perfectly perform every task and duty that is given to them at first, so they anticipate you to ask for their guidance.

Finally, most of the time supervisors request interns, so they are happy that you are there to work with them and be of assistance to them! Make sure that you are making the best of the enriching experience that you are gaining through your internship, as it will be of much assistance for future endeavors in your career path.

What did Suzanne’s supervisor have to say?

During her first days with the County, Suzanne was a tremendous asset in helping me to plan our ART (Aggression Replacement Training). Suzanne jumped right in and was able to assist with anything I asked of her, from making coffee in the morning to helping and assisting the facilitator of the training when I needed to leave the room.

Suzanne is currently working on putting together a resource binder for the division. The resource binder will highlight all of the evidence-based programs and curricula used within the division. The finished product will be distributed to staff within the organization and to the Rock County Human Services Department Board members. The manual will be a living document of the services provided to youth and families, and will be continually updated over time. Suzanne will be recognized for developing this manual.

Suzanne has been one of the best interns we have had in Juvenile Justice.

Congratulations Suzanne on being selected as UW-Whitewater Intern of the Month for April 2013!

Are you having or have you had an outstanding internship experience like Suzanne? Tell employers, faculty, and, of course, fellow UW-Whitewater students what makes/made your internship experience so great! Be featured in the Intern Spotlight! To learn more, visit the UWW Intern of the Month Program page.

Be sure to check out past featured students’ stories as well!

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Jay Brannan’s Journey

Jay Brannan, a Human Resource Management major/Communications minor at UW-Whitewater, spent his summer as a Human Resources Intern with an area nonprofit organization. Jay’s primary focus in his internship was the recruitment aspect of the human resources field.

One of the best outcomes of an internship experience is the affirmation that the career field you’ve chosen is a good fit. And for Jay, this internship did just that.

Just in case you missed it, read Jay Brannan’s internship journey this summer:

Jay Brannan

HR Intern

Bulletin Board After

Want to share your internship experience with employers, faculty, and fellow UW-Whitewater students? Be featured as the Intern of the Month on the UW-W Internships Blog’s Intern Spotlight!

Confessions of a Summer Intern: All Good Things Come to an End

Jay wraps up his summer internship with his final blog post. In case you missed them, read his first post and second post.

When you do something you love, time seems to fly by. That’s just what summer felt like to me. I can’t believe that my internship ended and that I will be moving in to Whitewater in a little over a week.

I don’t have a lot of updates as I was working on a lot of big projects, but everything that I accomplished was exciting and a blast to work on. First off, I have been working daily, without any supervision, on updating our applications, doing reference checks for our applicants, doing reference checks for other companies, and doing pre-screens. While this may not seem like a lot to do or very hard, it is a critical part of my internship and the Human Resources field in general. We want to hire the best candidates for the job and have them stay with our organization a long time.

This leads into one of my projects that I worked on and mentioned in my last post – the Recruitment Metrics. A recruitment metrics is graphs and data that show us how many applicants we got and where they are applying (websites, walk-ins, referrals) as well as breaking down the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information like gender, race, and age. This took quite a long time because I counted everything by hand and it is a very important part of any job field. With these metrics, we could see what websites are getting the most traffic and the least traffic, if we need to post a job on another website, and the basic ‘type’ of people applying, just to name a few things. I enjoyed working on this because you really have to pay attention to the littlest details and I always make sure that all the numbers check out. Comparing it to June, we are on track to where we want to be!

Another project that I worked on was a little more exciting – creating a new bulletin board for our conference room. A few HR interns before me had created a bulletin board highlighting important dates and upcoming events. After a few years, the board got older and started to fall apart. When given this project, I had fun with it. I wanted the board to pop out and have people look at it the moment they step foot in the room. With that, I thought of some colors and got my measuring tape and scissors ready. After laying out my idea and making sure everything was evenly spread out, I was done.

Bulletin Board Before

Bulletin Board After

It was only a few minutes after I was done that everyone in the office was saying that it was the best looking bulletin board, that it looked professionally done, and that it would stay up there for a long time.

Who knows, if I can’t find an HR job right after college, I could be an interior decorator. Haha!

One of the most fun parts of my internship was going to our Corporate offices in Jefferson, Wisconsin. I was so excited to see how they do HR there and to see the other aspects of the organization as well. While up there, I was able to talk with and meet a lot of the corporate directors and establish contacts with them! Also, I got to sit in on an awesome speaker that spoke to us about how to keep employees happy and to improve the work environment. For lunch, we went to the best China House I have ever been to and they had the best Orange Chicken! After we ate, I got to go back and sit in on a meeting on how we are performing as a whole. That was exciting to be at! On the way home, I got to see the fun side of my co-workers. We were laughing and joking and I think I even shed a tear because I was laughing so hard.

A new thing that we started to kick-into-action for our employees was to take daily walks around lunch to get ready for Health & Wellness Week. This has been a great way to get some exercise while getting to know my co-workers even more. The walks have become quite popular and I know they will continue to do them – at least until the cold weather and snow start.

As I mentioned in my last post, a project I had been working on was our Hiring Process. My goal was, from start to finish, to hire at least 3 people. Well, I exceeded that goal and I hired 5 new employees. It was awesome seeing all that time and effort pay off. I am glad the saying “the fruits of your labor” still applies to today’s work force.

One of the new people that I hired was the HR intern. I was sad and yet happy to do this. It meant that my internship was almost over, but that I could also train the new intern so that she could do as good as I job that I did. (I hope that doesn’t rub people the wrong way. I was told by many that I was probably the best HR intern they had.)

Going back a bit regarding the hiring of the new HR intern – which is something my supervisor has all the HR interns do – I got to go through the entire hiring process. This included a lot of what I did for the other 4 new hires. But this time, I got to conduct the interview as well as train her while I finished up interning for the organization. I was nervous about the interview as I had never done one before. To my luck, she was way more nervous than I was (that made me feel a lot better). As for training her, I went over a lot of the basic daily tasks that I work on and let her know more about the bigger picture projects as well.

Let me talk about the other 4 new hires I mentioned. On their first day of Training & Orientation, I conducted half of the presentations for that day. This included the New Hire Welcome, the Conduct section of our Employee Handbook, and the Jeopardy! Game to wrap the day out. I always enjoy this part of my internship (Training & Development) because what you teach them, they will use in their job. It gives me a sense of joy knowing that because of me, they will be able to take something and use it on a daily basis for their job.

HR Orientation PowerPoint
HR Orientation PowerPoint

Story time! – On the first day of Training & Orientation, one of the new employees was coming up to me about questions and talking to me while my supervisor was in the dark. My supervisor joked later that he felt like he was the intern and I was the HR Generalist because I was doing so well. I joked back and said that maybe one day I would take over his job and he said he’d be happy because then he could take a nice long vacation with all the Paid Days Off he accumulated.

The last thing I will talk about, and the most important to me, is the personal project that I had been working on – the Training Satisfaction Surveys. After a long time working on them, I finished them up and was happy with how they looked and all the information in them, too. When I gave them to my supervisor, I expected him to give them back to me and suggest me to add/delete certain things. However, he read them, said they were great, and started giving them to the new employees that started the same day I completed the surveys. I was shocked! I didn’t expect the surveys to go into effect that quickly!

Just a few of the Training Surveys I created.
Training Surveys

To my knowledge, it was his plan all along, and he had his full trust in me to get it done. After talking about they surveys after we got a lot back, he said that the information we received was very valuable to the organization and that they will be implementing the surveys for a very long time. He said that he was also going to talk to everyone at the board meeting the next Monday (August 20th – the first day after my internship ended) and tell everyone about them. When he told me this, I was socked and in awe. My hard work had really been paying off and I really made a profound impact for our organization. I will stay in contact with everyone and see how they all like the surveys! (I even started to work on another major project that I didn’t get to finish. Hopefully one of the other HR interns will pick it up or maybe I can work on it over winter break or over next summer.)

Like I said before, all good things come to an end. This is where I will wrap up.

Overall, I loved my internship experience and got to know a lot of wonderful people. This internship really reaffirmed that Human Resources is the right field for me and that I am on the right track with my career. I hope that what I will learn this upcoming semester regarding HR will be easier since I have so much knowledge of the field. It has been a pleasure interning at this great non-profit organization and who knows – I might end up there again one day.

Thanks for following me this summer and I hope you enjoyed reading and learning with me.

– Jay Brannan

Confessions of a Summer Intern: You’re Hired! You’re Fired!

Jay shares what he has been working on since his first summer internship post.

Since my last post back in June, I have been very busy at my internship. It feels like I had just started my internship and now I only have about 5 weeks left. To add to that, I can’t believe that summer is almost over – which means starting classes at UW-W again is only a little over a month away. I guess when you are having fun and staying busy with an internship, things go my faster than usual. Let me move on to tell you what I have been doing since we last met.

Jay Brannan

With my Human Resources internship, I have been spending the majority of June and July on Recruitment, Training, and Employee Relations. While this might not sound very interesting at first, I should add that it is a big part of any company – and I love it. I have worked with aspects that include hiring new employees, training new hires, keeping in constant contact with what happens to the employees, and even what happens after their employment has ended – including being terminated (fired).

Recruiting and Training are perhaps two of the most important parts of what a company wants to stand for. Any company wants to have the most qualified person for the job and to have them be well trained so that they can be a successful employee. When an applicant applies for a job, they don’t just want that job. They really want a career with a great company.

Some more of what I have been doing in regards to recruitment is updating records in our application system and what happens to each candidate in the hiring process. For example, if we feel an applicant meets the qualifications and has consistent employment history, we would conduct a pre-screen. A pre-screen is just another way to narrow down the number of qualified applicants to those whom we want to schedule interviews for. At first, it was difficult for me to get the hang of determining whether or not to pass on applicants, but now I know what to look for and it has gotten much easier for me.

Along with pre-screening applicants, I have been conducting both professional and personal reference checks on applicants who have had interviews to see what their current/previous employers and coworkers/friends have to say about the applicant.

To add to that, I have also been able to learn and work with employee relations material which includes what happens if an employee needs to take a leave of absence to how to handle situations after employment ends. I have learned in dealing with such material is that HR professionals are very knowledge and on top of their game when things get complicated and serious in matter. I find it an honor to be able to learn what I have been learning and to add my input and take over some of the material that we get as an organization.

One part of my internship that I enjoy a great deal about is that I have been able to take part in webinars about different HR laws, practices, and how to improve on certain aspects of HR. With completing and listening to professionals talk about these laws, practices, and improvements, I have gained valuable knowledge that I can use in my internship as well as use after I graduate from college.

While learning a great deal of information and having fun doing it, I have been assigned a lot of projects to work on during my internship. I will just mention a few of them so I don’t end up writing a novel (which I hope these post aren’t too long).

One of my projects I am working on is completing Recruitment Metrics for the month of July and comparing them to the month before. This includes figuring out how many applications we received, the number of new hires, who left the company, determining the turnover ratio, and much more.

The most recent project that I was assigned to was Recruiting and Hiring a few new hires. I have to pick a few applicants that we have set up interviews for and, by myself, follow the progress of the hiring process until I extend an employment offer to each of the applicants. This includes keeping in contact with staff and hiring managers to completing background and reference checks. I have a deadline to hire them by, so I will be working a lot on extending an offer of employment to these individuals.

The last project I will mention is that I am creating New Hire Packets and Binders for the new employees. While this is a project that involves a lot of time and organizing paperwork, I still enjoy it. I have to gather certain documents from our files, make copies of them, and put them in their respective binders and folder. I get to learn what the documents are used for and read up on them so I grasp a better understanding for myself.

HR Intern

One of the other parts of my internship that I like a lot is that I take tests. Yes, I said tests. And I like them. Every Friday, I take a test on HR practices about what I learned and what HR professionals need to know. So far the tests have been a little difficult, but they will only get harder. You can’t get a lot of this knowledge from classes, because there are just too many things that you can’t learn from classes – you need that real-world experience that comes with having a job or an internship.

Aside from all the work that I have been doing for my internship, I have been able to work on a personal project for the organization. I was excited to hear that I can do this because I had some good ideas about what I wanted to do. I narrowed my ideas down with my supervisor and I am working on creating satisfaction surveys for the training classes that we offer our employees.

This is important to both HR as well as the instructors that teach the classes. The employees will be able to answer some questions and give feedback on what they would have done different or have kept in a class. A big one that I think a lot of the employees will mention is the length of certain classes. Sometimes this will be able to change, but the duration of some training classes will have to stay the same.

If all goes well with creating these satisfaction surveys, I hope that the organization will be able to use the surveys for years to come! My supervisor also said that this is something that I will be able to put in my portfolio when I apply for future jobs. This made me really happy that I could do that.

As I am getting to write a bit much now, I will end this blog with a few more comments. – With a little over a month before my internship ends, I am feeling sad and yet happy. I love my internship (which makes me happy with that I chose Human Resource Management as my major), but I’m sad because I do not want to leave this great organization and the people I work with. But like all good things, they must come to an end.

Please don’t think of this as the end of my blogging, because I will be back for one more post in August!

Until then, stay tuned to read about what other exciting adventures I will have during my internship and how my personal project works out.


Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Jay Brannan

Jay Brannan

Hello Everyone!

After waking up early for classes all year, you think I would want to sleep in until noon every day over the summer. Not me. I am a morning person! I love waking up around 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning, having a hearty breakfast, and reading the newspaper.

This summer, my mornings are a little different. After finishing the newspaper, I am taking on an opportunity in which I will further my knowledge in my career path and where I can use my many talents to make a profound impact on the lives of who I work with. I am a Human Resources Intern for St. Coletta of Wisconsin.

For those of you who haven’t heard of St. Coletta or don’t know much about the company, I will take the pleasure of telling you a little about them. St. Coletta of Wisconsin was founded in 1904 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and is one of the oldest Catholic service organizations in the country dedicated to supporting adults with developmental and other disabilities. They offer residential and vocational programs that embrace the concepts of independence, community inclusion, choice, and empowerment.

St. Coletta of Wisconsin

Let me introduce myself a bit more. I am a junior at UWW and will be graduating May 2014. I am majoring in Human Resource Management with a minor in Communications. I also have a very strong interest in the Marketing field. I am a very active member of AMA (American Marketing Association) and I am an Account Executive for CMU (Creative Marketing Unlimited). I am also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. In the fall semester, I am excited about becoming a new member of SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management).

I started my internship on June 11th. The first day was training and orientation with other employees of St. Coletta’s. Experiencing other work training days that have been boring, I was very surprised that I, as well as all the others, enjoyed the training. We even laughed a few times with the Human Resource Generalist giving the presentation! During the break where we all got to meet more with our supervisors, I found myself already filing out employee’s I-9 forms. (The purpose of an I-9 Form is to document that each new employee is authorized to work in the United States.)

I work directly under the Human Resource Generalist at the Rolling Meadows office in Northern Illinois. With being the only intern in the office, I find more time to focus on my projects and getting to know the employees on both a professional and personal level.

As an HR intern, I have a lot of responsibilities that range from benefit administration to training and development and everything else in between. A big part of my internship is dealing with talent acquisition (recruiting). This will be my ‘baby’ throughout my time at St. Coletta’s.

Jay at Work

In talent acquisition, I use our APPTRAK system to keep track of the applications that we receive. (It is pretty easy to understand when I put it that way.) APPTRAK also includes the whole application process from start to finish – from when we receive a resume all the way to whether or not we offer them a position.

St. Coletta of Wisconsin is such a great place to work! There is so much history in this company. All of the development and growth St. Coletta has had in its 108 years is itself a huge accomplishment. The people that I work with are all great too! I am thankful that this is where I am doing my interning.