Sarina Steigerwald: Internship Journal
Sarina Steigerwald, Human Resources Intern at KIG, in her own words ...
Week 1: Jan. 31 to Feb. 4
After multiple calls and meetings with Kuzneski Insurance Group, making sure I was going to be a good fit, my first official week rolled around. I only work two days a week, so it was an easy transition adding the internship into my schedule. My first day consisted pretty much just of introductions and getting to know everyone – not to mention lunch. This was also my first chance to really sit down and chat with owners Andy and Laurie Kuzneski. They introduced me to their business and “The Kuzneski Way,” which, by the way, is a pretty good guide to living life, too. After meeting with them, I got to meet the rest of the KIG team who was in the office that day as well. Everyone was so welcoming, and the office was lively! Lunch came after that, which was a perfect display of how much Andy and Laurie care about their team. During the remainder of the week, I was able to get set up with all my accounts and technology, which maybe isn’t the most fun part of a new job, but you know, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Biggest thing I learned: I like Chicken a La Turca! (at least from Lemoona House)
Week 2: Feb. 7 to 11
Week 2 was still mostly filled with trainings, introductions and getting settled. I got my desk spot this week (never thought I’d be that excited about a desk)! This week was packed with glimpses into the HR world and different HR programs/processes. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to learn so much in my first couple of weeks, but I couldn’t be more excited that I am! The actual programs and processes that take place in the HR world are something that you don’t really learn in the classroom, so being given the opportunity to work with them during an internship is essential to growth as an HR professional. Also, in this week’s episode of Andy and Laurie’s kindness and care for their team, I was invited to join a farewell lunch for a co-worker, even though it was on one of my days off. The meals are nice, but knowing I’m working for a company that truly cares about their employees is nicer.
Biggest thing I learned: How to keep track of the hours report and how to use some HR websites like Mineral and Zenefits, along with experiencing some of what is involved in offboarding an employee.
Week 3: Feb. 14 to 18
Week 3 has been a little different. This is the first week more or less on my own, though obviously everyone is still there to help me when I need it! I got an opportunity to move around and set up my own computer screens along with all the rewiring that comes with it, to which I requested my “IT Certification” for successfully doing so. I now have a fancy handwritten sticker to prove it. I also did a little more training on how to do the hours report, which I may be taking over at some point. If you’ve ever wanted to see an impressive Excel spreadsheet, that’s it! What I was most excited about this week was the IUP Career Fair. I got the opportunity to attend the career fair with KIG and recruit some potential interns. It was definitely a change being the one on the other side of the table versus the one walking around -- a good change though! I actually really enjoyed it, which helped me realize that I may really like recruiting. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to do some more in the future. I didn’t start any projects or anything yet, as I will be gone next week, but I am looking forward to what’s to come next!
Biggest thing I learned: What it’s like to be on the other side of the table at a job fair!
Week 4: Feb. 28 to March 4
This week was more laid back for me. I got to spend a little more time with my coworkers chatting and getting settled, including cleaning out my desk. Desk finds: 3 green tea bags, 4 runaway pieces of gum, 4 random quotes, stacks of business cards from years ago, and so much more. Moral of the story: You never know who’s going to have to go through your desk some day, so you should probably keep it cleared of trash and shred old papers that are no longer needed. We’re still going through some resumes of potential interns, so I’ve been excited to help with reviewing those and to help with the overall process of finding our next interns. I also got to work with Canva a little bit (beyond what I used to use for my Instagram posts), which was super fun. Another thing I’ve picked up this week is reading the KIG blogs! If I end up with a little bit of down time, I pick out a blog and read through it. Not only does it pass time, but it also gives me a lot of useful information in understanding the world of HR and insurance, which everyone needs to understand. Highly recommend!
Biggest thing I learned: Keep your desk tidy and for the love of God clean it out when you’re done using it! Also, take advantage of the resume review resources at your university, or have a professor go over it with you.
Week 5: March 7 to 11
This week has been pretty exciting! Monday was filled with a good amount of exposure to more HR. I got to go over two more HR platforms: Bernie Portal and Ease (Ease is better!). It’s crazy the amount of information these websites can store, from employee resources to insurance to just plain old documents and so much more. You never know how much goes on behind the scenes until you’re working with it. On a bigger note, I got to participate in a few interviews with internship candidates! I’ve been looking forward to this since the career fair. Meeting with a bunch of students just like me has been so valuable to my development in HR, specifically recruiting. While most of the time I got to be a sideline participant and just observe the interview process between Laurie Kuzneski and the interviewees, I was still able to take notes and participate occasionally. It has also been fun since I knew some of the candidates. So far, I’m realizing that recruiting is pretty interesting to me, and I like working with other young adults. (Maybe that’s because I am one).
Biggest thing I learned: Interviews don’t have to be so serious! People talk more when they’re not so stressed. Also, as it turns out, companies can usually see if you visited their website, how many times, and how many pages on the website you visited. Do with that information what you want -- but mostly keep it in mind when getting ready for an interview.
Week 6: March 21 to 25
In a short week for me, I was only able to work my Wednesday half day, as Monday I had to spend recovering and catching up from spring break (spent in Las Vegas, if you were curious). Nonetheless, I spent Wednesday working on some small projects and side jobs. I’ve been getting to work with Jason Levan a bit more on a lot of his projects, which this week was reviewing some blog articles and creating various Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account fact sheets. We mostly use Canva for this work, which, as I’ve mentioned before, is pretty fun. It’s also useful to keep track of previous flyers and allows for seamless formatting across all of your projects. I also got to help Andy with some small things, giving me tasks to stay busy and, of course, learn a few new things. Every day here brings new opportunities to learn from -- big and small.
Biggest thing I learned: I’m not working with a whole lot here, but I’m gonna go with understanding the importance of keeping good, professional, but fun formatting across all of your digital content. After all, the world today is digital, so your online materials better look good.
Week 7: March 28 to April 1
Back to schedule. I was excited to get back to a semi-normal schedule this week. I started off with a Microsoft Teams meeting. (I’m not sold on Teams yet. I know it has more tools than Zoom, but eh). I still mostly sit as a bystander in these meetings, but for some parts I get to discuss what I can be taking over in the future, which is exciting. I’m mostly excited to continue working with the internship program. I also spent a ton of time working on some graphics for one of our events and reading blogs. On Wednesday, I got to go over some second-round candidates for our internship program and type up the emails to be sent out. I’m still pretty excited about working with other students and the recruitment process and look forward to continuing with it. Also on Wednesday, remember how I told you I got to set up my computer and monitors and earned my “IT Certification”? Yeah well I got to take all of that down, but it’s for an event I get to go to, so I guess it's OK. Plus, I’m basically a pro now, so easy-peasy set up when it goes back together!
Biggest thing I learned: email etiquette when communicating with potential new hires and when (unfortunately) letting people know it isn’t a fit for right now.
Week 8: April 4 to 8
I retract my previous statement about setting up my equipment. It wasn’t fun, but maybe that’s because it was a Monday morning (blah). Although it was much easier to put back together! I would say it was totally worth it though for the event we hosted, which turned out fantastic, by the way (probably because Claire is a great bartender 😉). I also am getting the resources to work on the hours report now! Long time coming but, you know, transition periods. The report is seriously impressive; I don’t know who put in the time to create it ... but damn. In other news, we’re looking into investing in some new video software for creating and editing videos. I was able to help Jason outline some differences among the three software programs we are looking at to ultimately make a decision. I also got to assist in getting some things situated for insurance renewals taking place in July, so I got some more small exposures to HR and benefits. We also rounded out my week with some blog reviews, and, let me tell you, insurance is in-tim-i-dating!
Biggest thing I learned: COBRA is not to be played around with. Reference our other blogs on COBRA if you’d like.
Week 9: April 11 to 15
Getting to add the Time Tracking Report to my weekly to-do Monday morning! This is so much easier than it initially seemed (probably because we found an easier way to do it). But this report allows us to keep tabs on how much employees are working to be sure no one is overdoing it, which I think is something many companies should do! I also got to be a more active member in our weekly meetings, which is exciting. However, this meeting ended with me getting homework ... books to read. Is now a good time to mention that I haven’t sat down to read a full paper book in probably years? I have a long plane ride ahead of me in a few weeks though, so maybe this will give me something to do. Aaannywaayyys, we had a meeting with JazzHR to go over some basic training to learn more about how we and our clients can utilize their services. The more I learn about all the behind-the-scenes software and websites, the more I am amazed at what technology can do if you take advantage of it. I also got to jump in on Laurie and Claire’s meeting to discuss the internship program and what needs to be done with it (I mean who better to ask than me, the intern?) We’re starting the process of mapping out the internship program and what we need to do for future interns, which is turning out to seem like a pretty big project ... but a much-needed one. We rounded out this week with some blog reading and explaining how the hours report actually works -- since apparently none of us really knew how to properly work it. But now that we have it figured out it, should be much easier to utilize and explain when needed. I also got to virtually meet Janice’s cat -- probably the highlight of my day.
Biggest thing I learned: Pivot tables in Excel are complex beings. Take the time to understand what’s actually going on (this applies to life outside of pivot tables as well 😉).
Week 10: April 18 to 22
This week got cut short again for me, because apparently the two-hour mystery flu hits hard (I had to miss my Monday). But Wednesday was still productive! Janice is now formally in charge of me, which means I have someone to work more closely with. We were able to get started on a few projects to occupy my time for a little while. One of them is sorting through and organizing a client’s handbook to publish. I am excited to work on a handbook and learn how to set one up. Another project I get to work on is creating a flyer for KIG employee benefits. Something to be able to give to potential employees to reference so they can see a brief overview of the benefits available to them. The start of this is simply a lot of organizing of information. As of now, we don’t really have one singular place to go to find all of the information, so I‘m working on creating that document first. It’s coming along though. I just have to sort through some PDFs and add the info contained in them and then it's on to creating the actual flyer. Needless to say, next week should be pretty full for me.
Biggest thing I learned: Benefits are complicated (at least it seems like that now), so having one place to direct employees is important, and that place should explain things in layman’s terms.
Week 11: April 25 to 29
Big week! With Janice working more, I’m getting some more projects that are HR-related. The biggest thing I’ve worked on this week is the employee handbook for one of our clients. I’m reworking the entire handbook and reformatting it to be more uniform and make more sense. I quite literally spent hours on this, and might have to spend a little more, depending on the feedback I get. It’s surprising to see the “messy” side of companies sometimes. I always assumed organizations have all of their things in order, but that is apparently not always the case. I also got a couple of assignments to create some flyers -- one
related to KIG employee benefits and two related to blogs we have out there. These projects should be a little more
creatively freeing though, instead of reading and organizing the denseness of an employee handbook.
Biggest thing I learned: Keep your stuff organized! Documents that are being handed out to employees should be clean, crisp, organized, and easy to follow. After all, you want them to read them and actually know what’s going on, right?
Week 12: May 2 to 6
This week proved to be a little crazy with employees and not to mention finals (I think I actually will be graduating on Saturday)! The hours report is becoming a quick and easy process on Monday mornings. Plus now I get to see how we are utilizing it to look at employees' work patterns and where maybe their work can be directed better. We are trying to redistribute a lot of work to who is best suited for it and can handle the workload. I think in large corporations, you lose this ability to redirect and redistribute work, so it’s nice that, here, we are able to utilize employees to their full potential and employees get to experience a variety of things. I’ve also been working on the KIG Employee Benefits flyer, which looks great, by the way. This flyer covers all of the basics of employee benefits here at KIG and serves as an overview for new hires to take a look at. I’m excited that something I’ve been working on could be used for the future of KIG employees. Plus, I am also becoming familiar with the benefits offered here. I was also excited to sit in on call this week with a new client! This call was more of an initial stage “what you want and what we can do for you” type of deal. We’re going to be helping with their handbook development and some job descriptions, so I’m excited to be involved in their HR side and get more exposure. My assignment after the meeting was to figure out what all of the marijuana laws mean for federal workers (news flash: No one knows). With every state having vastly different laws, this rabbit hole assignment will take longer than expected ... to be continued after my trip to Norway!
Biggest thing I learned: Small businesses will more than likely need help with everything HR (handbooks are hard). That means first-hand experience for me seeing how HR takes on a role in various companies.
Week 13: May 23 to 27
First week! … kind of. This is my first week back in the office for the summer and my first full-time week as an intern (big switch up from my Norway trip, BTW). The trip was great but getting back to a routine and a sense of normalcy is nice, too. First order of action: new desk. Second order of action: re-onboarding. A new desk and a formal onboarding process were nice ways to readjust to this internship, and I’m happy about both. However, the second day threw us a curve ball when the power was out upon arrival, but we got to relocate to a café nearby with some coffee and breakfast to make up for it, so it was totally OK with me. The rest of the week was filled with lunch-and-learns with our partners (free lunch, what could be better?), getting organized, and getting set up on my new computer (hellooooo, tech support). I got to pick up the hours report again, and this time figure out how to add new employees. I also got to dive into more HR processes such as handbooks and HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems). I got experience dealing with companies that span multiple states and how this affects what needs to be included in the handbook to comply with each state’s laws and regulations. This information also allowed me to get some more experience with Mineral (HRIS) by creating handbooks and playing around on the platform, not to mention the trainings I have due on there. We also got to go over job posting and refreshing on JazzHR. Oh, and intern duties call when we were asked to help Laurie deliver and set up the lunch that she cooked for the high school, but sitting in a room full of her food while not being able to eat any of it should be illegal!
Biggest thing I learned: A company’s relationship to their community and their partners tells a lot about them. Find one that cares about nurturing this relationship.
Week 14: May 30 to June 3
Mondays off are always a great way to start the week – Happy Memorial Day! This week has also been mostly filled with trainings. We did get a more formal training in Mineral, and I now know how useful of a tool it is! Fellow intern Kayleigh and I also got a good introduction to benefits notices and the request for proposal (RFP) process. Both are relevant roles in HR, especially when it comes to renewal season. While the benefits notices seem to be a little more straightforward, I’m excited to work with Stephanie and Melissa to see how this information is communicated to our clients. The RFP process deals more with us reaching out to carriers and developing a “best-fit,” per say, for a client's wants and needs. I also got to sit in on the Client Services L-10 meeting to hear some of what they’re working on and what we can expect for the business coming up in terms of benefits enrollments. Another training we received in HRIS was on Ease, which is a platform some of our clients use for various processes such as onboarding forms and documents, payroll direct deposits, enrollments, and more. I got a brief introduction to Ease early on in my internship, but this time around was much more informational. And the biggest HR-ish project I got to take on this week was helping one of our clients review their employee policies. This project made us not only look at company policies in a professional way (comparing other handbooks), but also in making sure it made sense and was easy and clear to read. The other interns and I also got together to discuss some content ideas we could offer that are relevant to us as interns. Oh, and latte art record keeping: We’re thinking about showcasing our “wonderful” latte art, so I’ve been taking a picture every time I attempt to make a latte in the office. I’m determined to have the process down pretty good by the end of next week. Check back then for the update.
Biggest thing I learned: Two things this week: how to properly(ish) use the espresso machine, and how companies’ policies look when they are just starting out.
Week 15 – June 6 to 10
OK, my schedule is ramping up now. Monday we got to review onboarding checklists for new hires for one of our clients, so seeing the onboarding process for another company was a great way to experience how different processes work for different situations. The other interns and I also discovered our love for exercise balls in the office, each of us claiming our own to use when we need a break or to sit on at our desks (honestly makes the day go faster). And, as it turns out, we're not crazy: Exercise balls in the workplace have a lot of benefits. Don't believe me? Check out our blog. The other HR intern and I were tasked with screening applicants for a few job postings for a client. This process took a while, 1. because it was our first time dealing with this stuff, 2. because there was a decent amount of applicants, and 3. because we had to call the ones we liked and play phone tag for a while. We also got to go to our first “big kid” networking event for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence with Andy and Laurie. It was at the Fox Chapel Golf Club (see how fancy and beautiful it is) and had free food and drinks (saving grace for the broke college kids). Review: While the event was absolutely amazing, my adult networking skills, not so much. But we’re working on that. I also got to attend a medical insurance renewal meeting with a client. It was great to see the stuff we’ve been hearing about in a much more practical sense. This was our first on-site client meeting, which was exciting, and we got to meet some great people. Thursday and Friday were filled with applicant screening, culture review, blog idea meetings, and after-hours happy hour events. Reviewing “The Kuzneski Way” is always a good reminder of what we stand for and how we run our business. And finishing the day with some happy hour events with our Indiana neighbors is just good for the soul, as they say – and the drinks help!
Biggest thing I learned: How to make actual foam for my lattes and what to look at when screening applicants for a job.
Week 16: June 13 to 17
Well, we didn’t burn the office down! With a conference going on in Nashville, the office was filled with just the interns and Amelia (and yes, we got work done, too). We did also take ourselves out to lunch one day (helloooo, PanAsia Café gyoza). I got to go over some more handbook work with one of our clients and continue some applicant screening for one of our others. I was also tasked with getting Excel sheets together and organizing/filling them with health insurance policy information. What I learned from this: Filters in Excel can help and hurt you; look out when copying information over; get multiple eyes on the document. In other Excel news, I was also tasked with creating a new master Excel sheet to compare what some of our clients' budget time and money wise for us versus what we actually end up billing them for. I believe this document will be used to figure out where our time is needed and how we can make use of it. But I got to put my Excel skills to the test in creating it, and fingers crossed it all goes well. Oh and BIG NEWS: Finally finished my Mineral training videos. We also got some insight into benefit notices and what information is needed to compile them and the documents we have to ensure we can complete these for clients. The rest of the week consisted of some housekeeping things and making sure all of my stuff was organized -- and making a fantastic latte to end the week!
Biggest thing I learned: Security cams will capture every moment, so be cautious (there may or may not be a video of me falling off an exercise ball).
Week 17: June 20 to 24
Started the week off by finally finishing my book I was assigned to read. “What the Heck is an EOS” explained so much of what we do in this office and how we run our business, getting the background of all of it was interesting to read. This is a much bigger accomplishment than it might seem considering I haven’t read an actual book all the way through in a LONG time (I know, I’m working on getting better). I also got to do a little bit more to help out one of our clients with screening applicants, revamping job descriptions, figuring out how to get more attention on a job posting, and tracking their new hire process. I’m figuring out that I love working with new hire processes and job postings. This was also exciting because I got to go back into my connections at IUP and get something set up to send out to current/recently graduated students. We’re also switching to a new HRIS, which is exciting (we got free T-shirts … that may or may not have something to do with my excitement). But seeing what all has to be considered when making changes like this is interesting, especially because it has such an impact on HR. Also got to try yet another new restaurant – Italian Village Pizza (the maui waui wing sauce … YUM). And, with med renewals coming around, we’re getting to help the client services team prepare via organizing files, folders, and Excel spreadsheets.
Biggest thing I learned: Sometimes you need a new set of eyes on a job posting in order for it to gain attention, and remember your connections, they can always help you!
Week 18: June 27 to 7/1
I spent most of this week getting to help one of our clients with their job postings and screening applicants for them. This included a little bit of research to figure out how we can best advertise for the target market. Along job posting lines, this client was also preparing for a job fair which involved looking over flyers to hand out for the different job openings. I also got to actually meet this client via video meeting -- it's always nice to be able to put a face to a name. We got to discuss the struggles they’re facing with employment and how we can work to resolve these. On Wednesday we got to attend another lunch 'n learn, which means I tried new food again (Thai at Indiana pad satay noodles with chicken – yum!). I think this internship has gotten me to try more new things in the last 6 months than the rest of my 21 years, so I’m thankful for that!. The lunch 'n learn had great information and insight into the world of remote health care, telehealth, Teladoc, apps that support such, and the necessity of offering these types of things in today’s world. We rounded out the week by collaborating on some blog and social media ideas for the internship and going over some advice and suggestions for future interns (lucky you 😉).
Biggest thing I learned: Ways to try to overcome staffing issues facing employers, and the importance of a company that values what you have to say and asks for your feedback.