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Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on Feb. 3, 2016, at the 10th Annual IMPACT Awards luncheon. Though the event is over and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.

These are their stories.

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Chelsea Kulesa completed a person services internship with Ontario Systems before graduating from Ball State University this year.

Indiana INTERNnet: How was your people services internship with Ontario Systems?

Chelsea Kulesa: It was phenomenal. The whole human resources team (I might be a bit biased as I was their intern) was so organized and they really, truly cared about making the experience as fulfilling as possible for all of us. They wanted to make sure we were able to do real purposeful work, and that we gained what we wanted/needed from the experience.

IIN: Did your internship experience prepare you for a career?

CK: Absolutely. You learn a lot in college and gain necessary knowledge to be successful in business; but nothing compares to the experience gained in quality internships. You can learn theories and ideals all day long, but until you experience what a real work place is like and learn more about your own work style you can’t truly know what to expect and be successful.

IIN: One of your internship projects was designing Learn.Grow.Change. What was it like teaching seasoned professionals much older than you?

CK: This was one of my favorite, but most challenging projects. As a human resources (HR) major, training was my area of interest. While it isn’t where I ended up starting my career, the training aspect of HR was always the most interesting to me.

When Kira and Deborah gave me the chance to design my own recurring program, I was terrified and excited at the same time. I spent a lot of time watching videos and reading online in order to pick the topic for the first session, the one I was to lead. Once I had that, I watched it over and over again, trying to know it better than the people that were in it. I learned a lot about time management and about personal organization. I didn’t realize how many little pieces went into designing a one-hour session!

When it came time to get in front of people much more seasoned than I was, I was honestly terrified. But, once I started talking and leading the group, all those hours of prep kicked in and my expertise took over. It was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I had in college and one that I will never forget.

IIN: Was the experience of leading Voluntary Time Off (VTO) events meaningful to you?

CK: Volunteer work has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up going on mission trips all around the world and country, and hearing stories about how kids and adults alike had changed the world with a simple idea. Ontario Systems’ dedication to giving back was honestly one of the biggest reasons I wanted to intern there so badly. Getting to plan and execute two days of service with the local Second Harvest Food Bank was all I wanted it to be. Our team of interns and even some of our managers went out in the cold rain and delivered food to people that needed our help. Even though it was wet, soggy and miserable outside, we were laughing and having fun the whole way. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of interns to volunteer with.

IIN: Why was the Executive Roundtable you organized important for the interns?

CK: The Executive Roundtable gave us interns a chance to sit down with the executive team at Ontario Systems and pick their brains. Here we were, young, inexperienced college students and there they were, more seasoned, experienced executives with a wealth of knowledge to share. These are the types of experiences you can’t get in a classroom (most of the time) but are so important to our future success. Learning from those that have gone before you is just as important as learning from your own experiences, and this session provided that opportunity.

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