Taking Care of Business

PROVO, Utah – Oct 15, 2020 – Many people see the human resource department at a company as the group of people who are responsible for hiring new employees and providing health and wellness benefits. While HR employees are certainly part of those processes, students from the human resource management (HRM) program at the BYU Marriott School of Business are showing that there’s more to HR than a performance review or a benefits presentation.

As BYU Marriott HRM students worked this summer in industries as varied as aerospace and investment banking, they saw the power of human resources initiatives to make a strategic impact. Daniel Pehrson, an HRM senior from Syracuse, Utah, spoke with business leaders around the world as he completed an internship with Goldman Sachs. “Some of my most memorable experiences include being invited to discuss important issues around diversity and inclusion, recruiting, and change management with senior leaders,” he says. “There were days where I would spend my morning speaking with a team in India and later that night meet with a leader in Hong Kong.”

These experiences helped Pehrson to see the power of how human resources makes an impact on a company. “The biggest lesson I learned is that people in human capital management (HR) can have a huge impact on organizations when they tie their work to the goals of the organization,” he says.

McKay Kelly, a senior from Orem, saw how diversity and inclusion could help businesses reach their strategic goals in his internship with Chewy, an online retail company for pet products. As Kelly learned about diversity and inclusion, he created processes that could help to eliminate biases and increase employee engagement. “I created a new hiring and promotion process which will help Chewy make more objective decisions and hire the correct candidates,” says Kelly. “We also created programs and systems to help employees feel involved at work. The goal of these programs is to increase engagement, which will make employees more productive and motivated.”

When reflecting on his experience with Chewy, Kelly says he learned that his work in the human resources department wasn’t just a positive experience for him, but also for the company. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that diversity and inclusion is not only good for a company’s bottom-line, but it also helps the business in many ways that go beyond profit margins,” he says.

Human resource management senior Daniel Taylor helped employees of another company feel productive and motivated by encouraging them to take care of their mental health. During his internship with Lockheed Martin, Taylor encouraged employees to use their available paid time off. “My team and I created motivational slides, articles, and tools that were published on Lockheed Martin’s website,” he says. “The project was fulfilling because we were able to motivate employees to take care of themselves during a difficult time. Total time off taken by employees working in the space department improved by over 30 percent in the months following our content launch.”

Taylor, who hails from Spokane, Washington, saw that human resource initiatives such as those he was a part of at Lockheed Martin could make an impact on people who were doing amazing things such as launching satellites into space. “One of my most memorable experiences was doing digital tours with some of the engineers who make the GPS III, which are satellites that relay navigational signals to the US Air Force,” he says. “A few weeks after the virtual tour, I got to watch one of the launches for that same program. I enjoyed seeing some of the results of the hard work the employees do.”

While some interns focused on taking care of people who were already working with the company, other students helped new employees transition into their roles. Shelby Brown, a senior from San Clemente, California, created a new onboarding program for HR employees as an intern at Cisco. “Every Friday I met with the other HR interns to focus on the program that we created for new employees. We ended up creating an interactive ‘trail’ to complete the onboarding experience,” she says. “This training experience will now be used for every new HR employee.”

Brown, like many other HRM students completing internships, saw her potential to make an impact on organizations and to build the career that she wanted. “The biggest lesson I learned during my internship is that the only limits that exist are the those we place on ourselves,” says Brown. “My manager was constantly pushing me to think bigger and do things differently. That motivation influenced everything I did during my internship and I think will continue to influence me for the rest of my career.” As students move forward in their careers, those who completed internships hope to continue to push beyond their limits to make a difference in organizations and the world around them.

Someone working on their laptop
BYU Marriott HRM students made a strategic impact through their summer internships. Photo courtesy of Burst Photography.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce