Many University of South Carolina Aiken students have the opportunity to gain experience in their chosen fields through internships with local companies. Communication major Stephanie Witherspoon has been working as a human resources (HR) intern for Bridgestone since last August.
What does your role with Bridgestone involve?
I am the HR intern, so I help the HR representatives and training coordinators with hiring and pre-employment functions. I schedule candidates for interviews, assist with interview preparation and new employee orientation. Once candidates are hired, I guide them through the pre-employment process and help with whatever they need.
How does this opportunity align with your career goals?
Last spring, I changed my major from exercise science to communication. I learned quickly that I didn't want to be a physician or other health care provider, but I've always loved communicating and helping people. I never thought much about HR, but when the internship at Bridgestone became available, I thought it sounded interesting. It ended up being a great fit and opened my eyes to what HR really is. I may have the opportunity to stay at Bridgestone full-time after graduation if a position is available, but if not, I would be interested in administrative patient care in a hospital setting.
What else have you gained from this experience?
It has been a great networking opportunity, allowing me to meet new people and make connections with employees at Bridgestone. Also, it has shown me my weaknesses and strengths in the workplace while building upon both.
How were you chosen for this role?
I had just changed my major and needed an applicable internship, and Bridgestone was hiring for three openings in different departments. Career Services sent me the information and helped me update my resume. I interviewed for all three positions, and a couple of days later they offered me the one of my choice! I chose HR because it seems to have the most potential for learning and growth, and I'm so glad that I did.
What other experiences have helped prepare you for your future in communication?
When I was still an exercise science major, I worked as a rehabilitation aide at South Aiken Physical Therapy and Wellness. The patient interaction involved with that job helped me discover my love for communication. On campus, I worked in the Center for Student Achievement as a receptionist, and I also give tours as an admissions ambassador. These opportunities have allowed me to improve my communication skills while helping people.
What advice would you give other students seeking an internship?
Keep in close contact with Career Services and your department chair, making your name and your interest known. Career Services constantly sends out opportunities catered to you, and you can also research opportunities within your major that are tailored to what you want to do. Make sure you keep your resume updated so that when it comes time to interview, it's ready.