my internship experience

Darcy Mitchell '10, a Business Administration major from Scarborough, Maine, was a workforce development intern this summer in the Human Resources Office of Mercy Hospital in downtown Portland, Maine. This unpaid internship experience offered Mitchell a chance to explore her long-standing interest in the field of human resources as well as discover new potential paths for her career after college.

On campus, Mitchell is a residential assistant and tour guide for the Key Association.

Why did you choose this internship?

I have always been interested in human resources, so that was a natural path to travel. I wanted something challenging and I wanted to work where I could feel like I was making an important difference. When the opportunity came up at Mercy Hospital I couldn't resist. The application process began with an e-mail inquiring about a possible position. That led to an e-mail correspondence and I sent along my resume. Within a couple weeks I heard that I was a possible candidate and I interviewed over Spring Break. A couple weeks later I received an email saying I had been chosen.

What skills were required for this internship?

The skills needed in this position were patience, confidence, an outgoing personality, ability to use Microsoft software, and general knowledge of business policies. My responsibilities included a variety of projects that required Excel, Word, Publisher and other programs. I helped develop coaching classes and worked on the set-up of orientation for employees.

Did your course work and studies prepare you for this job?

My course work helped me in recognizing issues and trends in my work environment. Classes like Introduction to Organizations, Macro and Micro Economics helped give me answers to specific situations at work. Understanding how a business environment works is crucial to succeeding in long-term development.

What did you enjoy most, and what did you find most challenging about your internship?

I enjoyed the diversity of opportunities that I have been exposed to. Even though I was an intern, I was able to visit other departments including payroll, public relations, and the veterans association. Being allowed into each environment gave me a well rounded view of my organization.

My first day was stressful and nerve racking. I had a lot of information thrown at me and met many people. I knew on the first day that I had been brought into a great organization.

My best day on the job consisted of meeting a goal that my supervisors had set for me. They asked me to develop some coaching techniques, and even though I didn't think there was any way of succeeding, my boss loved my ideas and thanked me over and over for all the hard work I had put in and the additional insight I was able to include. I no longer shy away from tough tasks because of that positive feedback.

My worst day was when the hospital laid off 27 people. When we heard the news, the hospital went into a little bit of panic and I wasn't sure how to react. I sort of drifted through the day and went home with many unanswered questions. I felt like my position wasn't important and instead of learning from the experience in greater detail, I shut off for the day. The next day I turned my attitude around and turned the experience into a hugely important learning experience.

What did you learn, and what skills did you develop during your internship

I learned to communicate more effectively and to share my thoughts no matter how unusual or stupid I think they might be. I am more comfortable in Excel and I am amazed at how quickly and successfully I can develop documents using formulas and templates. I have also learned that I work great under pressure and that thinking on my toes can be very effective.

What did this experience teach you about yourself and your field of study?

This experience has taught me not to be intimidated when given tasks that I think are over my head. I just take one step at a time. I have learned to be confident and positive. I have also learned that I am very capable of working in a fast paced environment. I am more sure now that I want to work in a structured business environment, and from spending time in other areas of the organization I have learned that HR may not be the only place that I should consider. I am absolutely open to exploring other areas as well.

Do you think that Colby-Sawyer's requirement of completing an internship is beneficial?

I probably never would have pushed myself to find an internship if it weren't a requirement. I think even though it is stressful when you have the internship hanging over your head as a requirement for graduation, it is absolutely necessary to prepare you for the future. I have made connections with people that I would have never met and I have been given the opportunity to get my name out there and show what I can do.