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Kayleigh LeVan: Internship Journal

Internship journal

Kayleigh LeVan, HR Intern at KIG, in her own words ...

Week 1: May 23-27

In February I attended the IUP Spring Career Fair and set out to find a job that would help me better understand my new profession, as well as create connections with individuals and organizations in my field. After the interviewing process with multiple organizations, Kuzneski Insurance Group was my top choice, and luckily Laurie, Andy, and Janice saw me as a good fit, too.Mindy-1

After graduation (and graduation festivities like vacation and visiting my family), I started full time at KIG as an HR intern. Monday before walking in the doors I was feeling a combination of nervousness and excitement, but by 10:30 a.m., I knew I had nothing to be nervous about. The first day consisted of introductions, setting up all the accounts required, and having lunch as a team while learning the Kuzneskis’ family business history. Tuesday was a little unexpected. We arrived at the office to find the power out. Jason gathered all the interns and took us to a local coffee shop to go over some media training while getting breakfast. The power came back on, and we had a Lunch-and-Learn with food from Olive Garden. Thank God Laurie and Andy understand what it’s like to be two weeks post-grad, because they have provided us with practically every meal in the first few days! Wednesday we predominately focused on setting up all of our accounts and programs our organization uses. On Friday I was informed that next week we will be getting more responsibility within our roles. (Now the fun begins!)

Week 2: May 30-June 3

We had a four-day workweek due to the Memorial Day weekend. As the entire caught up from missing Monday, I had modules and training videos to watch. As a human resources intern, it is extremely important for me to be knowledgeable of policies in the office, with employers and employees, and regulations and laws the DOL has implemented. On Wednesday, I took a brief break from modules to learn about benefits. Even though the training modules were tedious, I was able to keep up with our meeting with the base knowledge I received through training.  

Thursday was an action-packed day (for me, at least; the rest of the office would have thought it was child’s play). I had my first L-10 meeting with our staff, had a meeting pertaining to onboarding employees, and made offer letters for clients. If I thought modules were tedious, I should have waited a day to see how tedious formatting letters correctly is. As the week is wrapping up, we are collaborating on a few content ideas for social media in the upcoming weeks. An event I am excited for is Voodoo’s happy hour fundraiser next Friday. There is a guest bartender from 5-7. Surprise, it’s our very own Laurie Kuzneski! We bonded over serving/bartending life in my interview, so I know she will kill it.  

I would say the biggest thing I learned this week is benefits and the importance of making our clients feel heard and cared for. When dealing with insurance, we are helping people through a lot of technicalities, requiring understanding and empathy.  

Week 3: June 6-10 

Back to the office after a weekend trip to Pittsburgh, I’m finally getting used to working in an office (I still fight the urge to yell “corner!” while entering the kitchen -- a throwback to my waitressing days). On Tuesday, I got the opportunity to work in the HR and benefits programs on my own, and I'm slowly starting to grasp the processes without having to reference my notes (or my office mates). For any student learning a new skill, or job, takes time and patience. While picking an internship, I made sure I chose an organization with a culture that values learning and understanding, while creating an environment where a person would feel comfortable growing and being curious. (In fact, being curious is required.) Interns

Insurance is tough work, so we must find ways to make it fun. While slowly taking my HR training wheels off, the interns also attended the IEE Summer Social at a gorgeous golf course in Pittsburgh. Andy was our designated driver, so I indulged in a couple  of glasses of wine and had a great time networking with business leaders in the Pittsburgh area. This week was a busy networking week at KIG: We attended the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce After Hours on Thursday, catered by Romeo’s. How did they know I’m always up for a cocktail and appetizer?

Something that I have been learning is the importance of note-taking, asking questions, (even if you “feel” like you should know some of the terms already) being curious of processes, and checking some of Jason’s blogs consisting of acronyms and pointers for a successful internship. 

Week 4: June 13-17 

Four weeks into my internship at KIG, and time flies when you're having fun! This week the interns took over the office while our higher-ups traveled to Nashville for a conference. Miranda, Sarina, Amelia, and I had our own fun here in Pennsylvania. We went out to lunch and learned about each other’s hobbies and interests. We learned how to balance exercise balls, where the toaster is, and how to sort the mail.  

All jokes aside, I learned how to correctly time track employees’ hours and how to complete COBRA forms and why it is important. Four weeks in, and I am now fluent in templates and making offer letters as well as documenting new employees into systems. I have posted and refreshed jobs in JazzHR and worked in Benefix to renew organizations’ insurance for new and existing employees. Did I mention I have screened many applicants for three different job titles? Looking back, I have learned immensely within these four weeks.  

The biggest thing I learned this week is how to create benefit notices for companies. Among my colleagues I am an insurance newbie, but my parents are extremely impressed with my new knowledge!

Week 5: June 20-24 

Our colleagues returned from Nashville, and the office is lively again. On Monday, I continued working on yearly benefit renewals for clients and am noticing that I may not be as tech savvy as I once thought. One vital piece of information that I would share with future interns is to not let the initial fear of not knowing how to do a project hinder your ability to listen and learn. The first client I renewed through Ease and Benefix had me close to a breakdown, but after that I was able to renew clients’ rosters in no time. In other news, I received a book called “What the Heck is EOS? A Complete Guide for Employees in Companies Running on EOS,” which explains entrepreneurial operating systems and the vital role that each person plays within a company.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent most of my time working with a big client of ours. I met with my colleagues and collaborated on job advertisement ideas, the language of job descriptions, and screening applicants. I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with a client (not just attend, but collaborate and offer my input on projects), which helped me put into perspective my growth within my field. Thursday, I attended our weekly L-10 meeting, which frankly blows my mind every time. My colleagues are quite knowledgeable and encouraging about questions (I always have so many). Because health care and insurance are complex topics, we have resources to get second opinions of an issue, like Mineral. Speaking of Mineral, I am alllmosssstt done with my module training videos! Ask me anything about OSHA -- I dare you. 😉

The biggest thing I learned this week is, when a new employee is hired, add them into your systems immediately. It makes everyone’s job easier and removes the chance of losing this important data. 

Week 6: June 27- July 1 

Week 6 in the books! It’s amazing to review previous journal entries and see how my knowledge has been implemented into my everyday life at KIG. Monday, I attended a seminar for a client that focused on recruiting and retention of employees. This was a lovely opportunity to understand demographics and different perspectives from employer to employee. On Tuesday, I had a meeting with a client as well as our HR team to debrief the meeting I attended and what projects to focus on this week. I spent the rest of the day screening applications for clients. Be patient if you send a resume to an employer, because the screening process is rigorous. I probably know four job descriptions by heart now.

Wednesday, we had a Lunch and Learn meeting to demonstrate an app that pertains to benefits that could save my client services colleagues time throughout their day. Thursday consisted of an L-10 meeting with the Client Services team. Friday we are pitching marketing ideas to Claire and going over our thoughts on the internship program this far. Anyhow, happy Friday and happy Fourth of July!

The biggest thing I learned this week was a piece of advice: “If you’re going to hoot with the owls at night, you better be able to soar with the eagles in the morning.” 😉

Week 7: July 5-8 

Helllloooo, four-day workweek. Having an extra day for ourselves is always the best, but I am noticing a pattern. The Tuesday of a four-day workweek has the same feel as a Monday but with a double shot of espresso. The whole office scrambles to catch up on the work that was missed, while being nostalgic of our fun weekend. On Tuesday all the interns started working with a new client. I had the opportunity to organize, term, and purge past employees' I-9 Forms. I met four individuals within their organization and was able to successfully work with them remotely. (I was in the office, but technically we were all in different locations.) Later that afternoon I met with another client and got the responsibility of contacting universities in the area to enhance recruitment and retention.

Later in the week I moved from I-9s to organizing active employees’ files. Remember that double shot of espresso? We had a casual Lunch and Learn with TJ Fairchild, owner of Commonplace Coffee. (Our lunch from Pan Asia also deserves an honorable mention.) TJ taught us the science of making the perfect espresso and latte, as well as foam art. His business model, knowledge of his products and passion inspired me as a business professional in the making. I wrapped up my week by successfully scoring booths for clients at university career fairs. I am receiving more and more responsibility each week, which makes me thankful to have an internship journal to see how far I have come within this role.  

The biggest thing I learned this week is the importance of organizing employees' files efficiently. I can attest that there is nothing more tedious than spending hours organizing files for employees that were terminated two years ago!

Week 8: July 11-15 

It is my eighth week at KIG, and I cannot believe the summer is wrapping up in a few short weeks. As I start gaining experience in my role, my workday does not seem as frantic as in earlier weeks. I now have a routine throughout my day, such as checking emails in the morning, working on projects with clients until the afternoon, then finishing my day by screening for clients through JazzHR. On Tuesday, that was almost disrupted by a power outage at the office. The power came back on within an hour, so we were back in action quickly! Even though I have set responsibilities that I complete in my day to day, I attend meetings with clients and colleagues that result in gaining new training and responsibilities weekly. This week I learned how to sort mail and file bills, checks, and applications for my colleagues. Later in the week I had the opportunity to check references for potential new hires. Remember the new training I mentioned? I had to go over the dos and don'ts of calling references. 

I attended a seminar later in the week about recruiting and retention for a client. Learning these new methods are crucial to my new career, as well as my clients to relay and implement the new practices I learned and apply it to their organization. I found out that next week I will be attending a job fair in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned to hear about that next week!  

The biggest thing I learned this week is how all clients are different and have unique needs. Some things that are implemented in some organizations may not work in others.  

Job fair

Week 9: July 18-22 

Week 9! Can you believe it? Monday was filled with collaborating content ideas, and we have some great blogs in store for the website. 😉 Tuesday I worked with a client organizing more I-9 forms. We also had our weekly meeting with a client. While still contacting universities to offer career opportunities for students, I am researching methods to provide mental health services, too. Working at KIG gives me an opportunity to work on a variety of different projects with our different clients. This summer has given me a chance to understand different cultures and methods of process within organizations, not just at KIG.  

Wednesday, we brainstormed and explored the development of internship methods and best practices 

Steak tacos

for interns in the future. I appreciated Andy wanting to hear our feedback and to involve us in the process of helping future students. On Thursday Sarina, Claire, and I went to a job fair in Pittsburgh and ran a booth at a career fair for a client! The job fair had a great turnout, and we met multiple protentional candidates that fit roles that our client has open. We made a great team in  the recruiting process. We went out to Forbes’ Tavern afterward, and I had steak tacos.

After lunch, we haaaaad to stop next door at La Gourmandine, where I tried my first macaroon. Sarina and I stopped back at the office for the rest of the day and worked on social media content from the career fair. Friday we are working on following up with potential hires from Thursday's event.  

The biggest thing I learned this week is the importance of first impressions, as well as the benefits of attending career fairs as an employer and as an employee. I will remember some potential hires due to their enthusiasm for the roles being offered. 

Week 10: July 25-29 

You guessed it -- it’s week 10 of my internship! What you may have not guessed is that next week is my last week at KIG. I would get into the sappy self-reflections and how this summer has made me into a fully functioning adult (which it most certainly has), but that’s for next week’s blog post. 😛 The beginning of this week was a bit different. Since it is Sarina’s last week and mine is quickly approaching, we worked on wrapping up the end of our assignments to give KIG an easy transition. I met with a client and reported career fair opportunities that we successfully scored booths at. Most Pittsburgh-based universities were willing to work with this organization to offer career opportunities for their students. I was also able to make appointments for our client to meet with organizations that help connect patients with reputable mental health professionals virtually.

Throughout the week, I did job screenings and some administrative work for a client. One assignment that I thought was beneficial for me to learn this week was taking all the duties and responsibilities that every employee has at KIG and seeing if there are any overlapping responsibilities. This is the beginning process of revising job roles. Today we are having an intern party! Yes, I will be dropping my car off when our extravaganza starts. Even though Laurie drove my car home beautifully after the IEE event in Pittsburgh, it may be best practice to just walk home. Even though I was totally embarrassed to come into work the day after that, she had never driven a Beetle before, so it was a win-win! 

The biggest thing I learned this week is the importance of work friends and a fun, collaborative work environment. I know that may go without saying, but with the interns soon to part ways, it has me reflecting on how amazing this internship has been.  

P.S. I’ll let you guys know next week if I end up “indulging” in one too many cocktails at our party. (My guess is as good as yours 😉) 

Week 11: Aug. 1-5 

If you guessed that I would indulge in one too many cocktails, you were right. This is my final week at KIG. Where has the summer gone? I know that you would like to hear my weekly schedule but check out previous posts for that! I promised a sappy self-reflection and that is exactly what I am going to give.Kayleigh

First and foremost, what I learned in all 4 (give or take a year) years at school does not compare to what I have learned in 3 short months at KIG. I have learned office etiquette, internal and external best-practice communications, and relearned confidence within my ability to learn and grow. I have learned effective ways of social media, like LinkedIn, and how many doors can open if you just ask.

I have implemented all the things I learned in university in real business situations. KIG trusted me enough to work directly with clients and encouraged collaboration from all three interns. I will take everything I learned here with me in all my future career endeavors.  

The biggest thing I learned this summer is that it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Even though I could not tell you one thing about insurance (or HR, honestly) in May, I am comfortable and knowledgeable enough to explain what KIG is, and what I did for the company. I am a completely different person in and outside of work than I was 3 months ago. (In a good way!) 

Kayleigh LeVan

As an August graduate with one class left during the summer, Kayleigh decided to search for an internship that allowed her to successfully finish her degree in Human Resources and General Management while applying all the materials she has learned through IUP. Kayleigh hails from Bloomsburg and transferred to IUP in 2020 – right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic!

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