Last Update: 15th January 2019
Reading Time: 6 Minutes
My Experience As A Junior HR Generalist
I started as an intern at a well-known aged care facility as an HR Administrator, I gained the internship through university (which I would highly recommend if the uni offers it) and was one of the biggest learning curves that I have had in my career to date. I attended the internship 2 days a week for about 3 months.
I was fortunate to join a company that had a small yet incredible HR team that was willing to teach me all that they knew and welcome me as part of the team at the same time.
What I Didn’t Expect From My HR Role
It first started as learning the ropes which were a lot of data entry/editing, so this was all about learning the company’s system in entering new employees and editing details as they arose. As the company was an aged care company, and the majority of recruitment was for social workers (high turnover rate) regular documents needed to be updated in the system including car registrations, visa updates etc.
I never really thought much about using a system like this in an HR job, I thought it was all about hiring people and working towards the company’s culture. This was a really good insight into how a large company with hundreds of employees manage everything and keep up to date, it also outlined the importance of being thorough with the systems.
Once I had learned the ropes of the system, I was taken through their filing system, I kind of went into the company at a time where they were moving from manual filing (paper) to an electronic system so it was all about making sure important information was not lost in the process.
The importance of this was also high as such documents would be audited regularly. This needed to be taken seriously as all orientation and starter documents (including Stat Decs and contracts) when employees first start the job were in these files, so the order needed to be kept intact to ensure they could be easily found if any employee relations issues arose.
Once I had learned the rounds of the basics, I was able to assist in these simple, yet important tasks as they arose; I guess I kind of learned the end of the process first.
Learning About Recruiting
It was rewarding to see the end goal, but what I was really interested in was the recruitment side, the start of the process. The timing was spot on as a few weeks after I had begun the internship and was starting to settle in and understand what the company was really about, the HR team was beginning an assessment center to recruit a bunch of new social workers. For those of you that may not be aware, an assessment center is where rather than going through the selection process one on one, they shortlist applicants and then invite them into a group setting to assess applicants together.
This was kind of the first time I had been exposed/even heard of something like this so it was a great insight to see the various ways people can hire people. We each had a few applicants that we were to keep an eye on from when they first arrived, to what they were wearing, to how they interacted and based on this they all received a point.
We then conducted speed dating like interviews in a circle where applicants would only get a few minutes with different assessors before moving to the next person, I was one of these people. From this, we selected appropriate applicants and then began the reference checks and if passed, the orientation process. Although a little bit of preparation as involved navigating 20+ applicants at one time, it was worth it in the long run.
I was also spoken to about a few employee relations issues which were an interesting insight.
What I Learned From Being an HR Generalist
One of the biggest takeaways I was able to take from my internship was that there are so many parts of HR, just because you did or didn’t enjoy one particular job in HR, it does not mean you will/will not like or dislike them all.
Some companies are looking just for recruiters for example, or just for employee relations consultants then some are looking for HR generalists, which may include both of things but on a smaller scale and also include other tasks such as payroll.
Once you have a few years experience under your belt, and if it interests you, you may be interested in applying for a management role which probably involves also managing the HR team and working alongside internal and external stakeholders to uphold a reputation.
The only way you are going to find out which part of HR you enjoy it so gain some experience or decide what areas you think that you may like. Then you can make your decision on what role you might like to apply for.
99% of the time when a job is being offered, they have a contact you can reach out to, you can always have a chat to see what parts of HR you will be required to do and whether it is worth applying for.
Personally, I love working with people and encouraging empowering morale, culture, and a good working environment. This is why I chose to study HR. If you remember why you started then it may help you to figure out what part of HR might be best for you.