How I was Empowered to be a Leader During my Internship Experience

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Schneider Electric is proud to be named one of WayUp’s Top 100 Internship Programs in the US for 2019!  Read on to learn more about Giselle’s internship experience.

Written by guest blogger Giselle Richardson

In May of 2016 I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Eastern Connecticut State University. My interest in people’s thoughts and actions started when I was in my senior year of high school. When it came time to choose a college major, psychology seemed like a natural choice.  I was so excited to graduate, and I remember thinking how proud I was of myself for being the first person in my family to graduate from college. That celebration soon ended after I received my degree.  I started to think about the future and wonder “well…what now?”

I had no idea what I was going to do or where to begin for my first job out of college. It hit me hard because I did not expect it to be so difficult. I guess the millennial in me thought it would be easy to find a job in social services since I went to school for four years. I never thought about the millions of other students who graduated in May of 2016 who also needed a job.

After working in retail for a few months, I found a job at a health care organization.  In this role I was able to use my Psychology degree to help those with mental health concerns find local counseling services. My manager at the time provided leadership coaching and team building for local organizations, and he introduced me to leadership development and organizational coaching. The more I learned about employee development, the more interested I became.  I realized that it fit with my thoughts about how companies should have strategies revolving how to better improve employee’s work life.

At this point, I decided to go for my Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology with a concentration in Talent Management. Human Resources seemed like a good fit for me, and Talent Management was where I believed I’d be able to make the most change for others.

Beginning My Career at Schneider Electric

While studying for my Master’s, I was given a semester long project that involved working with a company as a consultant on an organizational issue. Therefore, I began my search for an internship. I still remember the day that I applied for the HR Talent Management Internship with Schneider Electric out of West Kingston, Rhode Island. I could not have been more excited, and it felt like the position was made for my MS program.

I joined the North America (NAM) Talent Management team in September 2017. On my first day, I jumped right into meetings to learn about the current structure of NAM TM. Within my first week, I had met with University Recruiters, Human Resource Business Partners (HRBPs), Talent Advisors, Managers and Employees for the Global Supply Chain Advance Development Program. As a student who didn’t have experience in the corporate world, I realized how important it was for me to network and understand all the different HR functions involved in a Global organization.

My manager, Karen Rubano, suggested employees and managers that I could connect with to learn more about what Schneider had to offer. These one-on-one conversations grew my interest in the company and set the expectations of the company culture. Listening to employees’ stories about where they came from and how they got involved in Schneider Electric made it clear that this was a company that I wanted to start my career in and grow as a young professional.

Developing My Skills

As I became more comfortable in my internship position, my responsibilities grew. Being a first-generation college student and a young Latina woman, throughout my life I was told that I needed to work harder than most Americans – a quality that is a part of me still to this day.  But although I had the drive to succeed in my internship, I was missing the confidence.

Though lacking self-assurance, for the first time in my life I had a manager who was also a coach.  She instilled a confidence in me that I never knew I could have. It started with being responsible for gathering and analyzing the U.S. internship Program data. As time went on, I began to dive deeper into the internship program. I learned the ins and outs of managing the program, and eventually, was the point of contact for managers and interns. I was constantly speaking with managers and HRBPs on the program’s strategy, their responsibilities as an intern manager, and building a partnership when critical issues were brought to the teams’ attention. I built a relationship with the interns as well, and assisted them with networking events, and created internal communications to educate them on Schneider news, open job postings, and how to network within the intern community.

The more involved I became with our intern program, the more questions I asked about early career strategy and the structure of the program. I found my “AHA!” moment, and with the help of my manager, we wrote out a project plan that would not only be beneficial for Schneider, but also complete my semester long project for my Master’s program. One of my biggest accomplishments during my internship was creating a document of the U.S. internship program framework which covers the phases from on-boarding, the internship job experience, program-related experiences, off-boarding and intern conversion to full time. The purpose was to educate future intern program managers on how the program works. What made this project successful was the flow of communication between the Talent Management team, University Relations Recruiters, Branding, and my college advisers. The completion of the project started a bigger conversation on early career strategy and updating the structure of our U.S. internship program.

Transitioning to a Full-Time Employee
Around April of 2018 I started to panic, because I knew that I was coming to the end of my Master’s program and I couldn’t be an intern forever. I was not mobile, so relocating to another Schneider office was not ideal for me.

When a University Recruiting position in Rhode Island became available, I thought it could be a great fit for me. To understand the role better, I shadowed a local recruiter, and immediately felt that this was the right move for me. I realized that although I was going to have a Master’s degree, I still needed a little more experience to really understand a company and the HR world.

I took the initiative and scheduled a conversation with the hiring manager to get to know her career path through recruiting. The role seemed like exactly what I was looking for, and I can’t describe how excited I was to be given a full-time offer after going through the formal interview process. My worries about school loans, bills, and how I was going to survive in this world started to go away. I also just felt happy to be working for an organization like Schneider. The overall message they bring to employees, the culture, and the values makes it a place of work you want to be in.

In May 2018, I officially became a full-time employee as a University Relations Recruiter in Talent Acquisition (TA). In this role I hire interns and entry-level positions for NAM, and partner with universities to bring awareness of our company culture to educate and engage with students.

The communication and collaboration skills I gained during my internship has accelerated my learning in recruitment and I am able to consult with managers on hiring best practices. The work I was able to be a part of with the internship program has also increased my leadership awareness. I continue to learn every day by building new relationships and partnering with different functions to provide a positive candidate, manager, and overall hiring experience. I advocate for the University Relations team by communicating with various TA team members to identify growing needs/concerns and creating the appropriate projects for the success of TA.

Words of Advice

Many interns have asked me for advice on how to get a full-time position in a company. I can tell you this; every intern will have a different story and that unique experience will be up to you. It is about the passion you put into your work and being excited to learn. Networking did help me, but I also joined projects with managers outside of mine. I put in the time, and I was eager to understand. I worked on developing myself as a leader by taking initiative and being a problem solver.

The society that we live in now is so fast paced, and those coming into the work force have expectations that a job will be presented to them. I, too, had this expectation. The best advice I can give is that it is not magic. It takes work, experience, education, passion, and commitment. Be authentic and do work that makes you excited. Don’t be afraid of a challenge. Someone once told me that if you are not afraid and asking questions, then the work you are doing is not challenging you and you are not developing. That sticks with me to this day, and I want to live by that to better myself.

My internship experience with Schneider Electric not only provided me with the kind of real-world experience that every student craves, but also helped me rise to an early career performer. My manager was a mentor who guided me by coaching and provided me with meaningful work once realizing my potential. Schneider Electric promises a meaningful, inclusive, and empowered work experience. These commitments exceeded my expectations and I am proud to be part of a company that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk when it comes to valuing their employees. I am proud to be one of our #SEGreatPeople.



About the Author:
Giselle Richarson is a Talent Acquisition Consultant for Schneider Electric’s University Relations team.  She is passionate about students and educating younger generations in a way that will make them successful in college and the workforce.  Her personal mission statement is “To be a voice for minority first generation students and show them leadership by continuing to be a strong, passionate, motivated, and successful woman.”  She is inspired by the inclusive and diverse initiatives of Schneider Electric.

Outside of work, she was born and raised in Connecticut, but her heart resides with the rest of her family in Puerto Rico.  She is married and met her husband 10 years ago in high school.  They have two Siberian huskies named after Star War characters: Yoda and Kylo.  She is an active in the gym and lifting weights.












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