Erin Steele is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in English and Psychology. A former Blackboard intern, she now works in the company’s Human Resources department. Connect with Erin on Linkedin and view Blackboard internships.
By Erin Steele
On my first day as a Human Resources intern at Blackboard, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, but I can tell you that my expectations for the level of work I would be doing weren’t too high (quite frankly, I was mainly hoping for good snacks in the vending machines). As so many of my friends and classmates had done before me, I applied to several internships hoping to learn more about the field I was interested in and to beef up my resume… but the idea of finding a job in which I’d be doing any meaningful work, let alone getting paid, seemed unlikely. These kinds of internships are what my friends and I referred to as the unicorns of Corporate America. So, I took the fact that I had somehow managed to score a paid internship as a circumstance that superseded my allotted good fortune and prepared myself for a summer of filing, coffee runs, and maybe sitting in on a meeting or two if I got lucky.
Imagine my surprise when my supervisor handed me a list of tasks including selecting and organizing content for our professional development site and helping to coordinate one of our New Hire Orientation programs! It was a bit like being thrown into the deep end of the pool when you’re just learning how to swim, but my supervisor and everyone around me was so accessible and supportive, I knew I wouldn’t drown. This pool had lifeguards. In just a few months, I ended up learning a ton about human resources as well as Blackboard as a whole. I quickly learned that as an educational technology company, Blackboard is committed to helping everyone grow, including (and especially) their interns.
I enjoyed it so much that I ended up returning as an intern the next summer, right out of college. As my responsibilities grew, I was able to form working relationships with people outside of HR and learn about different roles and career paths, several of which were completely new to me. My fellow interns and I were also able to meet with the CEO and other executives for Q&A sessions where we learned about their own career paths as well as their visions for the company. I guess that’s a piece of advice I’d give any summer intern—regardless of what field your internship is in, be a sponge and absorb as much information as possible about what people do and how things work at your company. You may find that you develop an interest in a job you hadn’t considered before, and at the very least you’ll become better at your own job and more attractive to potential employers.
At the end of the summer, I was invited to join the team as a full-time employee, and have been able to work in recruiting as well as in an HR generalist role. During my time in recruiting, I came to see that my internship experience at Blackboard wasn’t a unique case—this company cares about giving its summer interns meaningful work and experience that will help them move forward in the world. The people at Blackboard aren’t trying to hire errand runners or people to do mindless tasks, they want interns who will do good work and make legitimate contributions to the business.
Never would I have guessed that my internship at Blackboard would turn out to be such a valuable experience, and that value extends even beyond getting a full-time job after graduation (which is nothing to shrug at either). As a Blackboard intern, I gained great experience that will serve me well in whatever I do with my life, in or out of work.
Are you looking for an experience like Erin’s? Check out Blackboard internships.