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The spotlight now shines on is the Sr. HR Coordinator who’s sadly leaving us, Mariah Sandberg-Gardner!

Question #1: What drew you to SWS originally?

I’m a public relations communication major which is sort of related to HR but it’s not at all. There’s like different specialties and different terminologies, so different focuses. I just really wanted to get my foot in the door for HR because that’s really where I want to be long-term.

Question #2: What inspired you to work in HR?

It’s more, so communication as I described it is a lot more people-oriented less science version of psychology, which I like but I wasn’t a general comm major because I don’t think it’s as applicable as a career. So as a PR major, that tended to be more advertising, marketing and things like that that I really wanted to end up with long-term, so like HR, the more I got into different fields and got other jobs in different fields but HR seems more people-centric so there’s problem management, interviewing and a lot more face-to-face whereas PR is more research based and I could do my entire job without talking to people a lot of the time.

Question #3: What three words would you use to describe your role?

Firstly passionate, I really like what I’m doing and of course, I can’t always be passionate, which is why I’m choosing HR and a career I really enjoy. Next, forward-thinking, just in the way I try to keep pushing forward, improving the company and setting them up for success when I’m gone and just doing what I can to foresee problems and improve on those. The last one I would say is a listener. I think that’s really important to me and I like to include people who are quieter and who aren’t always listened to and I think a lot of times they have the best ideas and I try to listen to feedback from my team, my supervisors, or whoever I’m interacting with going forward because that’s the only real way to improve myself or to improve any company I’m working for. My older sister is quiet but is really smart and is the person I most respect and look up to, so I try to see things through her eyes.

Question #4: What did you like most about being an HR intern?

I really liked a lot of it. The onboardings, the interviews, and my basic job description had a lot of different people come through especially with how high the turnover is. So I got to interact with a lot of different people and I was always meeting new people. I also really just love my team which was special, especially Jessical I enjoyed working with and George has been really really great. So that and I’ve enjoyed working with all of the supervisors, just the general team interaction, and collaboration.

Question #5: What have you learned from this internship?

I think the HR department is really spot on with career experience a lot of the time. I didn’t do many interviews but I did gain a lot of experience that it confirmed that this is where I want to be, which is really nice because before I was just exposed to it but now I got my hands in it. So it’s confirmed what I want to do for the rest of my career path and it’s been really good experience because I learned a lot of systems like Basecamp, a project management system, and I’ve never really worked with a project management system before. I worked with recruitment software and scheduling a ton of meetings, showing up to meetings and leading meetings. Just keeping all the details together has been a really good time.

Question #6: What do you find the most challenging at SWS?

The turnover was something to consistently keep up with. One of the other things, I didn’t really have the time to work more than 10-15 hrs a week. It would’ve been better if I had worked like 20 hrs because I think I could’ve done a lot more and do my job better if I was working more consistently and had time to go over Writeboards, improve processes and things like that but I really couldn’t invest that much time in it so I think that was probably the most difficult part, seeing the things that needed to be done but not having the time to do it because of onboarding, training, and other things.

Question #7: Do you think you’ve helped improve the department?

Yeah definitely. Jessical encouraged improving the department and I’ve gotten the chance to see where improvements needed to be done. Some of the times, the improvements was just basic editing and grammar. I spoke with Geoffrey about policies that I thought needed to be changed, that are being changed just to make things smoother for interns and I really liked that. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the job is being able to renovate/keep improving, keep changing because it’s so young and is still so willing to grow. I enjoyed being able to make a change and effect good change for the company. I think creating something that goes longer than you at a company is really good.

Question #8: What advice would you give to new interns?

One of the biggest things that’s hard to take care of is people within the few weeks of onboarding, with scheduling being different, the first month a lot of times people don’t have enough hours, very low hours and they don’t have anything to do yet. So I guess my encouragement to them is to ask your supervisor for help, definitely be bolder when it comes to booking meetings, and increase communication with the team.

Question #9: What’s your next step after this internship?

So a couple things. I have a very busy school schedule this semester, so I’ll be doing lots of school work since it’s my final semester. After graduation, I’ll be working as a Lead Brand Strategist for a small digital marketing company in Virginia. They’re another really good team, so I’m excited to get into it.

Question #10: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Probably part-time with the startup but in 5 years…I don’t really have any plans. So after I graduate I’m gonna spend some time paying off debts for about a year and then next summer I’m planning on moving to Japan for 2 years, so that’s the 3-year plan. After I come back from Japan, I want to land in international HR with Japan, so I’m trying to learn the language especially as much as possible and coming back to America and apply that knowledge. So in 2 years, I want to be in international HR back in America.

Question #11: Any other thoughts about the internship?

I’ve definitely learned a lot and happy with the experience I’ve gotten here in leadership and HR specifically and it’s been a really good experience overall. I was a little bit skeptical coming into it and at times it was hectic in getting promoted so fast was most definitely a jump, you know figuring everything out myself but that was an experience I enjoyed myself too since I learned so much through that and I’ve learned so much through the people I’ve gotten to manage and oversee like George who’s so professional and does such excellent work. Just learning how to work with a great team like this has been really good for me.

Geoffrey Purkis

Geoffrey is the Founder and CEO of Seattle Web Search. He’s a web developer and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert located in Seattle, Washington with extensive experience in the field. Geoffrey specializes in helping his clients find the right combination of web, search, social, and video content to get the best results from their online marketing efforts.