“Hi, my name is Chidozie Nnaduruaku and I’m a TechStar Intern with the Quality Growth team. I’m a rising third-year CS major at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. I’m Nigerian and some of my interests are music, clothes, soccer, Formula 1, and the NBA. Life at UKG is engaging, challenging, fun, and flexible all at once. Every day, I get to do work that interests me and requires a lot of thinking. At the same time, the work is fun, and I can complete it without feeling like there is an immense pressure on my shoulders. My mentors and team members reach out to help a lot which helps me feel comfortable. They are also understanding of different circumstances, which makes the experience more enjoyable.”
“Hello! I’m Ella Hadaway and I’m a Recruitment Marketing and Branding Intern on the Talent and Acquisition team. I am a senior studying Public Relations at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. My best friend is my 2-year-old black lab, Harley, and I love binge-watching reality television. I enjoy working at UKG because the company truly values its employees and promotes a healthy work-life balance. Everyone I work with is super helpful and kind.”
What factors are most important to you in an internship?
Chidozie: I think it’s crucial that an internship gives you a real understanding of what the field is like. It’s very hard to gain that understanding from courses at school and information online, but an internship provides a perfect example since it’s essentially the real thing. Participating in daily stand-up, design meetings, and user stories every day has really developed my understanding of what software engineers actually do. It is also important that you feel welcomed during an internship. So far, I’ve had to ask countless questions to make things clearer and I’ve only done so because I feel confident that my mentors and team members understand my position.
Ella: A company’s culture and values are key factors to me in an internship. As an intern, feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and reach out for help when I need it is important to me. I also appreciate UKG’s dedication to being inclusive and supporting diversity. I think it is important that a company has values you resonate with.
Participating in design meetings and user stories every day has developed my understanding of what software engineers actually do.
What surprised you during your first few weeks at UKG?
Chidozie: I was impressed by how many resources are provided to us as interns. If I felt unclear about something, there was always a specific UKG resource I could use to understand it. These were things like Pluralsight, UKG Today, ServiceNow, and meeting recordings. On the rare occasion that there wasn’t a resource, there were countless people I could ask to clarify on Slack and Teams. The number of interns surprised me. I got to meet so many people in just a few weeks and it was fun to talk to so many people from so many places. I made a ton of connections and even met a nice group of interns that go to Georgia Tech like myself.
Ella: When I started my internship this summer, I was really impressed with how welcoming and friendly everyone was. This is the first time I’ve had a mentor in an internship, and I’ve been grateful to have her as a valuable resource whenever I need help or advice. I was also impressed with the resources offered to interns—like virtual seminars with leaders in our company on how to build better presentation skills and financial wellness in your 20s. Things like this show me that UKG cares about investing in the future of its interns.
This is the first time I’ve had a mentor in an internship, and I’ve been grateful to have her as a valuable resource whenever I need help or advice.
How would you describe your experience as a virtual intern?
Chidozie: I really enjoy it. Being at home has made it easy for me to feel more comfortable and less intimidated. I often get into the flow of working quickly because I don’t have to settle in or go through a long process just to start working. I can also address any small things that come up at home very quickly without hindering my work productivity or having to leave work altogether. That said, I do wish I could see my team from time to time. I enjoy talking to people face-to-face, but all my team members are located out-of-state for me. This would make asking questions and explaining things much easier than it currently is and make communicating more fulfilling.
Ella: I enjoy working virtually because it allows me to work in my own space and have more flexibility than I would if I were in an office full time. However, I miss working with other people and meeting members of my team in person. Despite being virtual, my manager and mentor did a good job of making me feel included and part of the team by setting up weekly one-on-one meetings for us to catch up.
Share advice on how future intern candidates and managers can make the most out of the internship experience.
Chidozie: To interns, ASK QUESTIONS. At the start, it’s expected that you’re clueless and you can only overcome that if you aren’t scared to ask about things. Your mentors know this, but they can only help you if you tell them when you don’t understand. Also, try and make a good connection with a few other interns during that first week. Talking to them about your experience will make you more comfortable, as they’ll probably face the same troubles you do. It’s reassuring knowing your problems aren’t specific to you. To managers, make sure your interns feel comfortable. I’ve been fortunate to be on a team that makes me feel that way and it makes a big difference. This means responding to questions in a manner that isn’t judgmental and checking in occasionally with how interns are doing. This will build their confidence and create an environment they enjoy being in.
Ella: I think the best way to make the most out of an internship is by building strong professional relationships between yourself and your team. Being open and honest about things you don’t understand or are struggling with can be intimidating as an intern but knowing when to ask for help is a valuable skill. Managers can help by checking in on their intern from time to time and making them feel like a real part of the team, not just temporary.
Chidozie and Ella’s Key Takeaways:
- Make internships inclusive; be open and involve interns in conversations and projects as much as possible.
- Assign a mentor to every intern.
- Introduce your interns to as many employees across the company as possible.
- Ask questions and always reach out for help.
- Attend every meeting and event you can.
- Establish connections with everyone on your team.