If you ask a five-year-old what they want to be when they grow up, the answers are usually exciting and mythic (a fireman! A ballerina! A dragon!). Rarely, do they reference the business world, and even less frequently the answer is “insurance broker.” The same could be said of college students – desired majors are often stated as communications, accounting, or engineering. While these majors are closer to the careers we will ultimately come to hold, insurance as a major still doesn’t usually make the list.
So, when I started to explore internship opportunities, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of a summer spent with Hays Companies. I quickly learned, though, that an insurance brokerage firm provides opportunities for so many more career paths, whether that be marketing, human resources, legal/compliance, data analysts, customer service agents, or business analysts. Here’s a look at my personal experience.
I am a senior at the University of Saint Thomas, studying Marketing and Data Analytics, and have been interning for the Hays Companies Marketing and Communication team at their Minneapolis Headquarters. My experience has provided me with valuable, real-world experience that I am confident will be beneficial in my career. Here are the highlights of my internship thus far:
Why Hays Companies?
I could tell from my first interview that Hays is invested in their people (all members of the team made an effort to meet me and my interview focused how the job would allow me to grow professionally). This was especially important to me because, as I’ve learned from my classmates, not all companies are so committed to helping younger employees learn. Beyond that, though, I was attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit that is so obviously a key component of Hays.
My day-to-day activities are a healthy mix of quick tasks that I can complete autonomously, such as drafting content for the company website, posting on the company intranet and social media platforms, and learning branding and the basics of graphic design. In addition, I simultaneously focus on larger projects to help move the company forward. Throughout the summer, my intern cohort and I were assigned two projects to work on collaboratively. The first project consisted of creating tutorials to help team members more efficiently navigate and utilize commonly used technology platforms at Hays. The second project involved creating a “Roadmap to Hays” highlighting various departments and their responsibilities within the company. These projects allowed us to leave a lasting mark on Hays, as the company will continue to utilize them. Beyond intern group projects, I’ve also been provided with opportunities to prospect and plan for major company events and seminars.
An essential component of the internship program is the mentorship aspect – every intern is assigned a mentor for the duration of the summer. Your mentor is almost always your boss, ensuring that you are able to gain insights into your desired field. In my case, my mentor was the National Director of Marketing & Strategy. In addition, my fellow interns and I had the opportunity to connect with other senior leaders in the company, taking advantage of their experience and business acumen.
A positive company culture is something I have always prioritized in searching for a workplace. In my interview, when I asked the team to describe the company culture, I remember the phrases “entrepreneurial,” “all-for-one” and “work hard, play hard.” After working at the company for four months, I can confirm each of these descriptions to be true. Hays has a positive atmosphere that is teamwork oriented, which I find to be extremely motivating.
At the beginning of our time as interns, my peers and I were presented with an activity encouraging us to introduce ourselves to co-workers who we do not interact with regularly, including top executives of the company. While this initially seemed highly intimidating, we quickly learned that forming relationships with individuals in other departments is essential to deepening our understanding of the company. We were pleasantly surprised to realize that these executives were equally as interested to learn about us as we were to learn about them. These individuals often leave the doors to their offices open to welcome us in for conversation or clear time in their schedules to invite us to coffee or lunch so we can share backgrounds and goals with one another. This is a prime example of Hays being invested in their people and the future of the company.
Be Eager to Learn
Each new day at Hays means numerous opportunities to learn. My team is always brainstorming ways to involve me in projects that will expand my skill set. I have also learned the importance of feeling challenged in the workplace. I would not be nearly as interested in showing up to work every day if I felt like I knew exactly what that day was going to bring. At Hays, I can’t always predict what tasks are going to be sent my way, but with the guidance of my team, challenges transform into learning opportunities.