Internship in Her Own Words: Liz Elias, '13, Studies Psychology Through Business

Liz Elias, '13"Even as an intern, it's nice to make a contribution that can benefit the company long after I've finished," says Elias, a native of Clarkston, Mich. She also makes contributions on the softball diamond as a first baseman for the Britons.Working in human resources is a combination of business and psychology. It requires the ability to handle business aspects, such as payroll and benefits, and deal with people on a personal level. Employee relations are a constant factor in developing company policy, dealing with employees one on one, and creating a safe and healthy work environment for the employees.

This summer, I used my psychology studies at Albion College to dive into human resources with an internship at Plymouth Technology, a company that produces equipment used by industrial wastewater and water treatment facilities. The company is small; from the president to me, all the administrative staff works in a single building.

As an intern at a small company, I've been given the opportunity to work on very advanced projects. My main project has been developing Plymouth Technology’s health and safety guidelines, essentially starting from scratch. My supervisor and I researched other companies’ policies and the Michigan OSHA website, then wrote guidelines and rules that would be more applicable for Plymouth. For instance, our company headquarters includes a warehouse and laboratory, each requiring different considerations.

I also helped develop company policy regarding on-call employees. Plymouth had just hired its first on-call employee and they weren’t really sure how to pay an on-call person. I researched legal regulations for items such as whether an employee could be paid while he slept. I learned it's really important to know labor policy and rules before you hire someone. The information that I discovered proved helpful to my boss and the final policy helped to save the company money.

Last but not least, I've also been helping the company grow; I've used LinkedIn to find potential new sales representatives and invited them to have a phone interview with the company. I've also conducted phone interviews for potential interns. By the end of the internship, I will have gone through the full hiring process to find an intern that will replace me!

By going through this process, I have seen how company staff and potential employees handle interviews and have come to understand what employers are looking for. I can take the positives and negatives of the people who have interviewed with Plymouth Technology and apply those observations to refine my own interviewing skills.

Through my work at Plymouth, I learned about state laws and regulations about health and safety, on-call employee rights, and workers' rights to disability. I gained key insight into the interviewing process and concluded my experience with participation as on observer in the performance evaluation process. This internship has been rewarding because of the wide scope of learning opportunities it provided. Better yet, everything I put together was implemented with the company after a few reviews and changes. Even as an intern, it's nice to make a contribution that can benefit the company long after I've finished.