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Human Resource Internships: Tips for Applying and What To Expect

by | Oct 30, 2020 | Internships

Thinking about building a career where you can work closely with people and develop an environment where employees can thrive? A human resources internship may be a great place to start. In these positions, you’ll develop excellent communication and organization skills in order to support the basic functioning of the entire company.

Here, we’ve put together a quick guide to human resources internships. You’ll learn what to expect from HR internships and uncover how your career can benefit from landing one of these gigs. Plus, you’ll find tips for navigating the application process, acing the interview, and where to find open opportunities.

What To Expect From a Human Resource Internship

Human Resource Internships: Diverse People stacking hands

Each human resources internship is different — especially when it comes to company culture — but in general, they entail a few key concepts. You can find full-time, part-time, and summer internships depending on the company and program availability. 

Most HR interns work under the guidance of an HR manager and daily duties are organized around supporting the essential functions of the human resources department. At a high-quality internship program, human resources interns will play a key role in special projects and be involved in the creative and decision-making processes.

In general, you’ll be expected to assist with HR functions and tasks that center on:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Talent management
  • General human resources functions, like writing and posting job descriptions, sharing open positions on various channels, and scheduling interviews

As a human resources intern, your job isn’t just outward-facing. You’ll also participate in internal projects that help to support existing employee relations and develop company protocols for communication channels and sharing concerns. 

As an HR generalist, you’ll also work on business administration tasks such as gathering and tracking payroll data. For job postings, you’ll learn how to collect market salary information and decide on the pay rates for different roles within the company. You’ll plan company events, organize the onboarding of new hires, and answer employee questions regarding benefits packages and general HR policies. You’ll also support higher-ups such as HR business partners in developing employee engagement.

How You Can Benefit From Human Resource Internships

Human Resource Internships: Intern and interviewer shaking hands

Whether you choose a full-time or part-time intern program, landing an HR gig can help lay the foundation for your future career. Human resources intern jobs enable you to develop essential skills from communication to organization that you’ll need to have to move up the ladder. 

Human resource internships and positions are people-oriented. In these roles, you’ll develop exceptional communication skills including negotiation and conflict resolution prowess. In addition, you’ll learn how to manage work relationships and serve as a mediator and educator for fellow team members. 

A human resource internship gives you hands-on experience working in a real HR environment. You can build your network as you work with human resources managers and superiors as well as other interns who are working towards similar goals. These networks can help offer guidance throughout your career and open new opportunities. You’ll get to work on real-time projects with people in your field, learning new skills, techniques, and processes to build your resume and experience.

How To Find Human Resource Internships

Human Resource Internships: Man reading resume

There are several places you can look to find a human resources intern position. You don’t have to limit your HR internship job search to just New York, the United States, or even North America. There are tons of opportunities in human resources positions across the globe including in hubs such as Paris, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro. 

Major job sites like Indeed and Craigslist often list open internship opportunities. Keep in mind that some sites are focused on local openings while others may provide national opportunities. While these sites can be useful, they also tend to attract huge amounts of applicants, making it harder to land the gig. 

That’s where recruiting events come in. Most colleges and universities hold in-person or digital recruiting events. These events usually feature hiring managers from popular companies in various fields including human resources. Attending these events can help you get your foot in the door and make a personal connection with the hiring manager. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and make an impression, rather than simply submitting a resume like hundreds of other applicants.

Recruiting sites like LinkedIn and Scholars are also useful when it comes to standing out from the crowd and applying to internship programs. 

You can use LinkedIn to reach out to the hiring manager or human resources department at a company you’re interested in interning for. This can help start the conversation and give you a chance to explain why you’re the best choice for the program.

Scholars makes it easy for students and new grads to connect with internship and job opportunities. With an account, you can upload documents that show your work experience, list your skills, and create a profile that employers can find when looking to fill open positions. You’ll also be able to engage with companies you’re interested in, including getting exclusive access to webinars with hiring managers that can increase your chance of landing the gig.

Tips for Applying To Human Resource Internships

Two people shaking shaking hands

Applying for an internship can be a stressful experience, especially if it’s a position you’re dying to have. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience, especially with a little preparation. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when applying.

What To Include on Your Resume

For most human resources internships, you’ll need to be pursuing a degree in HR or a related field such as labor relations since these opportunities are geared towards entry-level applicants. Many internships are also open to graduate students and recent grads. 

In addition to education, it’s important to highlight any work experience that is relevant to the internship opportunity. This can include previous internship experience, work experience directly in the field, or even a major project you worked on during your studies. You can also use passion projects to show experience that will enable you to excel in the internship program. Essentially, hiring managers want to see what you can offer the company so it’s important to be specific and detailed when explaining your prior experience.

It’s also a good idea to mention your knowledge of labor laws, equal opportunity employer standards, and Human Resource Information System (HRIS) software. Proficiency in office tools such as Microsoft Office is also beneficial and worth mentioning on your resume. In your cover letter, you should also list key instances or projects where you used specific analytical or problem-solving skills. Human resources interns and employees should be detail-oriented so make sure to check your resume for any errors before submitting.

Common Interview Questions

So you saw the job alert, applied, and have been scheduled for an interview with the HR department. Congratulations! Now’s your time to really shine. While interviews can be intimidating, they’re also a great way to make an impression and convince the hiring manager why they’d be crazy not to hire you. 

The best way to do that is to take time to prepare answers to common questions. Your answers should be detailed and informative, showing the hiring manager what you can contribute to the team and demonstrating an interest in the company’s success.

Here are some of the most common interview questions for HR positions:

  • How has your college experience prepared you to work for us as an HR intern?
  • How would you react if given a difficult task that you can’t complete?
  • Why do you think human resources is important in the workplace?
  • How would you identify qualified applicants for an open position?
  • How do you stay up-to-date on labor laws?

Try setting up a mock interview to practice your answers. You can have a friend or family member pose these questions to you and evaluate your answers. They can offer feedback on how to improve your answers. You can also practice on your own. Stand in front of a mirror and practice your answers. Focus on making good eye contact, projecting positive body language, and highlighting the key details that show your expertise and ability to contribute to the company.

Set the Stage for Success

Man offering handshake

Whether you love helping friends navigate the hiring process or enjoy scouting for top talent in your field, human resources internships can help you build the foundation of a successful career. By landing one of these gigs, you’ll develop basic skills, get hands-on experience, and network with people interested in the same field. 
Sign up for Scholars to connect with hiring managers and companies you’re interested in working for. In addition to our blog, we host a podcast where we talk directly with hiring managers at some of the most recognizable firms. You’ll find tips for how to make an impression during the application and interview process as well as information on what to expect from an internship or the company culture at a specific institution.

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.