Name: Sarah DeFeo
Internship: Pepperidge Farm National Head Quarters Human Resources Summer Internship
How did you get this internship?
I had the good fortune of meeting Kim Ryan, the Vice President of HR for Pepperidge Farm National Headquarters. I discussed my schooling and career aspirations with her and she offered to help me work on my resume. After spending an afternoon together, she said “We do not typically accept interns for just one summer, but I would like to have you interview and meet the people who work in my office.” I gladly accepted that offer.
Over winter Break I emailed Mrs. Ryan and she put me in contact with “her people.” They set up a three hour long interview in which I would meet with five different HR coordinators. About two weeks later, I had received a call that they would like to have me back to intern at their headquarters starting in May!
What were your daily responsibilities at your internship?
I would like to consider myself a bit of a Renaissance woman while working at Pepperidge in their HR department. Thanks to the incredible employees there, I was able to work in various outlets of HR. I primarily worked in recruiting. The company set me up with my own recruiting license, gave me a list of 20 jobs to fill, the profiles they were looking for, and let me go to work. In recruiting I also helped devise the new job descriptions for their websites. As a college student, they had me sit in on recruitment strategy meetings for recruiting from college campuses and were happy to ask me a lot of questions.
I also had the opportunity to work with the HR generalists. I helped to facilitate training sessions on public speaking and presentation skills for their sales representatives. One of my summer long projects was setting up Myers Briggs testing for the Marketing team and a follow up Team Building Session for their department. They kept me very busy in the office with work the full time employees would be doing rather than the typical ‘intern work.’
What was your favorite memory/experience at your internship?
Aside from all of the free Milano’s, Goldfish, and Cinnamon Swirl Bread, I have a lot of very fond memories from working at ‘The Farm.’ My favorite memory starts out as one of my most stressful memories. I was invited by my boss to attend a Sales meeting with the VP from each department. So as an intern sitting in a room of the executives of a two billion dollar company, I was a little nervous. As the meeting proceeded, the VPs began asking me questions and my opinion on their ideas for recruitment, sales, and salaries. They treated me as an equal in the board room and included me in conversations that would have an impact on the entire company. I was honored that these employees in high up positions valued the input of an intern and allowed me to have my own piece of input for Pepperidge Farm.
What was the most challenging part about your internship?
The most challenging part of my internship was learning how to ask for help. Since I was given so much responsibility as an intern, there were various times in which I ran into problems and questions that I did not know the answer to. I was often conflicted between wanting to prove myself as an independent worker, and asking for assistance. I had to learn how to admit when I needed help and ask my mentors the proper way to proceed. And of course, they were more than willing to help!
How will this further your career?
This internship has undoubtedly shaped my career path. I had the chance to test out different outlets of HR to see which facet of the position I could see myself working in. I was also spoiled working in a fun, exciting, and fulfilling work environment so now I know what is out there and I will not settle for working in a dull and fruitless work environment. Most importantly, since my mentors gave me so much responsibility and had so much faith in me as an intern, I know what I am capable of. I now know I can handle new problems and projects that are thrown my way that will have a lasting impact on the company I am working for. I learned how to ‘make things work.’
What is your best piece of advice for underclassmen?
Talk to people. Make connections. Give your opinion. Volunteer for events. Do not settle. I would not have had this opportunity if I did not speak up and put myself out there. Once I had the internship, I volunteered my time and opinion whenever possible. It was from those experiences that I gained as much from this experience as I did. You are constantly making impressions. Be the kind of person you would want working for you. Because of this mentality, I was invited back next summer to intern again!