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How to Develop an HR Internship

by Lisa McQuerrey

An internship in the human resources field can provide valuable insight into an evolving profession that is responsible for cultivating and maintaining qualified workforces. The responsibilities of an HR employee vary based on the industry and the size of a company, so look for an organization that's representative of the type of work you're most interested in pursuing.

Identify companies you want to internship with. If you're interested in a particular aspect of human resources, such as hiring and training, employment law, benefits, dispute resolution or employee contracts, seek out organizations that can provide you with the most viable opportunities to learn about these key areas.

Ask your personal contacts for referrals to HR managers and companies that meet your criteria. Go to family, friends, and your college or university's internship coordination or career counseling department. These people might be able to give you an inside contact that can pave the way to creating an internship experience.

Contact the HR manager in the companies you like. Ask if a formal internship program exists, and how to go about applying. If no formal program is in place, ask if the company will consider allowing you to propose an individualized internship experience.

Write a detailed proposal that outlines the type of internship you're seeking. Be specific in outlining what you want to learn. Your objectives might be labor relations strategies, recruiting techniques, diversity initiatives or writing operational procedures. Describe your timetable and availability and why you see yourself being a valuable asset to the company during your internship. HR professionals must have good communication and interpersonal skills, and must be able to effectively interact with a wide range of people. Stress your ability to provide attention to detail, maintain confidential information, and to be unbiased in your work efforts. Address whether you need to be paid for your internship service.

Write a resume that details your work experience, your education to date, and describes the career path you plan to take. If you have any previous experience in human resources, include this as well.

Send your proposal to the appropriate contact in the company. Follow up a few days later to gauge response to your proposal. If the company is interested, you'll be asked to participate in a process similar to a job interview, where you’ll meet representatives of the company, discuss expectations, and have a chance to sell yourself as someone with the ability to contribute as well as learn.

Tip

  • If you're completing an internship for college credit, meet with your college adviser prior to pitching an internship proposal. There may be criteria you need to meet in order for the experience to satisfy the school’s requirements.

Photo Credits

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