My internship was accomplished at George W. Hill Correctional Facility (Delaware county prison) in Pennsylvania. The facility was constructed in 1998. In 2009, a centre for Community education was constructed by the Delaware County prison board. The aim of the facility was to provide correctional services. There are re-entry counselors available for discharge planning. They are employed on permanent status in order to be able to provide full time services. Moreover, there is a psycho-education program available in the prison. There is also a prison re-entry education program whose purpose is to deal with issues of criminal addiction and substance abuse. The offenders attend the facility on a voluntary basis and when they are mandated to do so. Also, there is a section of alcoholics, parenting classes, carpentry, adult education and a computer centre. Available classes include anger management and sexual offender’s classes, which are offered on mandatory and voluntary lawbreakers. On its territory there are recreational facilities. These facilities are used for gym, games, entertainment, movies and there is also a barber shop. There is a library offered for offenders who want to prepare legal documents and for those who want to read and borrow books for leisure. Qualified detainees are offered a program to enable them to work once they are freed from prison. From time to time, the prisoners are offered religious services through volunteers and community based initiatives. The administration allows mentors to guide inmates and give them guidance and source of hope.
The internship at George W. Hill Correctional Facility has influenced my social as well as career life. The facility is located at a strategic place with sub-branches all over the country. These centers are acres in sizes and have multiple training options for the students, recreation areas and virtually all a person needs. The facility is closed during the week, so there is no distraction for the students. I was enrolled in the mechanics program and GED testing classes as both were required to graduate from the program. I started in the sales sector and then worked in other relevant sectors since there were few employees in every section. I quickly excelled in the workplace and was given more responsibilities and started helping other students while I was given my jobs outside of the training duties. George W. Hill Correctional Facility is like a military boot camp in some ways. Students in internships are given accommodation free of charge. I had to be awake daily at 6:30 am. Your bed should be made tight with the edges folded.
Preparation for Internship and Methods Used for Communication
During the interview process, I managed to explore the office environment. I also met the people that I would be working with. In order to find out more about the corporate culture, I sought to find out what was suitable for the work place. I got to know a few things on the company’s culture through retrieve information on client orientation, individual call among other things. I also took a keen look on the form of dressing and compared rule adherence with the company’s stated rules.
I prepared myself beforehand by maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid any form of preventable illness brought about by poor diet and lifestyle. I speculated that the internship interview would be a long one. Thus, I aimed at performing the best of my abilities and energy. With plenty rest and eating right, I showed up on time since I did not want to under-estimate meeting the basic requirements of the job. This was necessary in order for me not to jeopardize possible long term opportunities.
As I sat down at the reception waiting for the interview, I went through the company’s magazine and leaflet to learn more about the company. The previous day to the interview I had done my research on the company on line.
Since I was not familiar with the new duties, I inquired as much as I could ask. This enabled me to get the picture of the future responsibilities and who to report to in case of anything happen. Through the inquiry process, I learnt vital elements of the job. For example, I learnt not to take extra jobs whether they are initiatives or any other duty at the expense of the assigned duties. I was also advised to make plenty of new connections during my internship as this would provide unlimited opportunities later in the growth of my career.
An internship is an excellent opportunity for someone to display their business skills with a possibility of attaining full employment. Also, it is a continuation of the education process. During open communication with lecturers and colleagues, I learnt a lot about my work mates. I was also able to get a picture of how the work environment runs.
My supervisor advised me that if I became faster in my assigned duties, I would learn a lot from the internship experience. He also advised me that I ought to learn about the routine of the work environment first. This would be followed by focusing on creating new contacts or spending my free time with my mentors. This would be possible if I quickly got acquainted to performance that is above standard. I was to review the tasks or small projects carefully before submitting the work to managers. He advised me to treat projects seriously, at the same way I would treat a task in my own company
As I prepared for the interview, I learnt that it is always advisable to deliver work that was done in a better way than as it was expected. I gathered that during the internship, I would be given tasks that were either rather complicated or simpler than my expectations. Thus, it was wise to be ready psychologically for what the job requirements were. Through performing the tasks with a positive mentality, I would add more value to my internship and work experience.
During my internship, I managed to conduct an informational interview. I arranged an informational interview with one of the full time employees. This was essential in order to know more about their careers and daily activities. Also, it would provide a channel to enable to know about their perception of internship status with regards to one’s performance. I would also get a preview of my opportunities ahead in the growth of my career. This way I took advantage of my internship status as an initiative to stand out more compared to other interns since most interns are too intimidated to do so (Interview question are available on the last page of the portfolio).
It was wise to request the supervisor for a reference letter at the end of the internship. With the reference letter at hand, he pointed out to me that it would be essential to have it in order to give it to the potential employers.
Methods of Communication
The facility enabled me to interact with people from different background, experience levels, age and culture. Thus, I was required to use proficient verbal communication since I was dealing with different people. I had to learn to express my thoughts using words that other people could comprehend as well as back up my opinions or statements with facts. I learnt to listen attentive. Useful tips that became useful included eye contact and paraphrasing to ensure that I understood the person clearly. I had a chance to learn skills that were useful in expressing my thoughts, attitude and feelings in a formal and acceptable way.
The internship experience enhanced my non-verbal communication such as eye contact, gesture and posture. A new skill of non verbal communication that I learnt was that dressing can also be a form of non verbal communication. The business department platform involved constant human interaction. I had learnt a few tips on how to improve non verbal communication in school. I applied these skills at the facility and managed to deal with my shy nature. Therefore, understanding the basic forms of nonverbal communication enabled me to interact more easily with co-workers. This skill will also be useful in my business when dealing with customers. Therefore, non-verbal communication is necessary in order to communicate more effectively and emphasizes on what the speaker says.
Frequently writing of reports and inmates documentation slightly improved my written communication. Although, I had learnt most of the written communication in school, therefore, the facility did not improve it much. However, the experience strengthened my skill in writing and communication through the writing work in a concise, clear and respectable way. A vital skill that I learnt that will be useful for my business is that, for complicated businesses, it is best to use written communication such as facts and figures. I also learnt that written communication improves the efficiency of an organization.
The main type of electronic communication used was through e-mails. I learnt how to use the correct tone and use the right content when it came to corresponding to e-mails. As a form of professionalism, I learnt to pay attention to the grammar and spellings. This is a skill that will be useful when dealing with clients in the future. However, I will try my best to learn about other forms of electronic communications that I am not familiar with yet.
After attaining my bachelor’s degree program, I had to get some work experience in order to earn academic credits. The internship was an opportunity to add practical, relevant experience to my field of study. It was also a channel to enable me to understand organizations before acquiring a job. I can say that I was pleased to submit my goals and objectives as a business student. My career goal is to become a business man. I did not prefer government jobs, since in my country, Liberia, many people work in the government. Also, there is chaos all over the country. I would like to have my own business back in Liberia in order for me to meet other international business people. One of the reasons I want to be a business man or business manager is that it comes with a lot of responsibilities that included hiring and firing employees, paying bills, supervising displays, setting store policies, keeping good records, and making good decisions for my company.
My first goal in an internship was to improve my public speaking. In my culture of origin, public speaking is not part of everyday life. I would like to improve my communication skills. Since, in every profession in the present times, communication is very important. Good communication skills, no matter what someone plans to do in life, will help one out greatly and improve one’s chances in a harsh job market. I am majoring in Business Administration and communication is one of the biggest aspects in my major. My second goal is to improve my business skills, because I have never worked in the business field before. I believe that I optimized my internship opportunity necessary for someone to get the skills needed in the business field. With these goals in mind, I hope to become a successful business man.
Project Documentation and Activities
Each day at the facility brought new learning opportunities as I performed different chores on a daily basis. Recruiting and training new staff for the George W. Hill Correctional Facility (Delaware County Prison) stores was a part of my duties. I trained 220 associates for market opening. The management made me responsible for 5 junior managers, 11 assistant managers and 125 employees per store. I also mentored several hourly associates to new management positions and seasoned employee bench in place for any unforeseen event. In this department, I initiated cash handling procedures for zero shrink loss in cash rooms for the market and performed cash functions from deposit to change orders. During the night period, I reconciled all registers in order to account for errors or shrink and assigned sales budgets based on corporate goals, current trends and previous year’s data. I managed sales on higher margined stock-keeping units, sub stock-keeping unit, in services offered and quizzed employees on current promos and coached positive training on the sales floor. Moreover, I led morning cheers and created rewards for associate behavior and shopped competitors to ensure that we offered the best price while always looking for new talent. Therefore, coaching of employee’s who were not following the company’s policy was among my part-time duty. Additionally, I handled the hiring and termination of any associates, acting as Human Resource manager through coaching, training, and talking with associates when problems arise. I merchandised the stores to company standards and customer expectations and unloaded freight trucks and counted in coming merchandise. I also ran forklift and placed freight on racks and moved items in warehouse to quicken merchandise pickup. I directed sales training every Sunday morning for the new additions. I also performed daily merchandise tag audits. Capable of performing any position that the store had, I managed the home installation team and performed location inspections when needed. Moreover, I delivered goods with the delivery team and attended monthly district meetings for the new product launches and training sessions. Therefore, I helped peers and their stores to manage when the scorecards showed problems and spent more time on other stores than my own. I also hired, trained, mentored and developed my replacement so the store would not suffer after my leave. I continually had the best stores in the region, top five of the company and manage more than five million in sales goals for the stores while controlling expenses, cutting checks, doing payroll, and I learnt to put money in the inmates phone book.
Every student who was undergoing internship at the facility got a free locker and a bed. Once the beds were inspected, all the interns went to the kitchen for breakfast. Every other week or so, interns were assigned to kitchen duties. This included washing the dishes and cleaning up the dining area for the 150 other students in the internship. I also worked with the staff cooking meals for everyone. This was interesting as it was out of the normal business routine.
The internship like any other situation in life had some challenges, which I had to handle. First and foremost, the culture of the facility requires every student in the internship to have a bed. This type of accommodation made me feel inferior. It was more similar to high school and military training than of university students who are ready to graduate. Secondly, we had to be checked every morning and this was my least favorite part of the day. Additionally, we were given kitchen duties, which we did not expect. However, I adapted with the situation and managed to like the duties within two weeks. I took these activities positively making them as a part and parcel of my internship. I enjoyed the cooking and took it as an opportunity to learn how to cook for many people.
Weather elements were other challenges I faced throughout my internship. Sometimes we experienced heavy rain and clothes did not dry fast. It was difficult to wear official clothes throughout the week since there were heavy rains, and it was cold outside. The weather also affected my health as I was always having a fever.
Language barrier was the biggest challenge. The first work was so challenging, because customers were using their local language at the workplace. I found it hard to comprehend why people can use local language in such a big organization. However, my colleague who came from this area acted as my translator. Eventually, I started to understand the local language. In fact, I could understand almost everything when the locals communicate.
There were several conflicts in which I was involved in during the internship. During the first week, I had several conflicts and disagreements with workmates over minor issues. In fact, we almost broke into a fight with a workmate when he said that I was taking roles, which are not mine. This made me annoyed, and I had to respond back. However, the other colleagues intervened and the fight did not ripen. The Human Resource manager called us to his office and he warned us. I learnt the art of doing nothing whenever insulted. I also attended a seminar sponsored by George W. Hill Correctional Facility and learnt conflict resolution methods. As a result, I became a peer educator and guided colleagues whenever they disagreed.
There was too much work for me to do at George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Every manager wanted me to work for them as they claimed my work was incomparable. This inserted great pressures on me as I worked too hard to please every manager. Additionally, the work was not paid. Sometimes this made me feel uneasy and demoralized. However, I was able to handle the issue, because I understood that it was for a few weeks only. With time, I realized that I would be through with my internship within a short time. Moreover, it gave me hopes of a great job with a good salary.
Social isolation was another challenge at George W. Hill Correctional Facility. During the first few weeks, we were isolated whenever other workers were going for trips and other functions. It was humiliating as we were taken as outcasts. The employed workers expected us to work and not to enjoy any privilege from the organization. In fact, they had even suggested that interns should not be given food as this was reducing their daily ration. Nevertheless, this came to an end when the workers realized how helpful we are to the facility. After some time, they started treating us like colleagues and worked together with us.
Another interesting situation appeared when I figured out that some of the previous records were faulty. The records were inaccurate, so I had to go to the primary records to correct them in order to avoid future inconveniences. This was tough and required extra time and commitment. Nevertheless, I was able to finish the corrections within the first weeks and from hence onwards worked with my correct figures.
Ethical dilemmas cropped up for supervisors, managers and other staff who were conducting business in developing countries. The launching team was affected by various ethical issues when conducting their daily activities. Most ethical dilemmas come from labor laws and cultural differences in business organizations. Other ethical dilemmas arose from fiscal or accounting situations as well as wage costs. Child labor is an ethical dilemma, which has affected many businesses. Supervisors, managers, marketing staff and other stakeholders have to work together in order to come with a solution considering all sides of this ethical issue. It is challenging to most business whenever it comes to make decisions on whether to employ adults, pay them higher and lose some profits, or employ children, pay them less and increase profits. In every business organization, failure to deal with ethical dilemmas around child labor can cause consumer bans, decreased customer loyalty, and negative press. George W. Hill Correctional Facility was affected by these ethical dilemmas and, but I managed to intervene and advised the senior manager what to do.
From the recent reports, George W. Hill Correctional Facility Company was facing child labor allegations. This is not the first time; neither will it be the last that a multinational company is being accused of such actions. Child labor is defined as the inclusion of children to the workforce of a company; it is illegalized because it deprives the employed children of their childhood. Children also are supposed to go to school, play with fellow kids and develop physically, mentally and socially. A factory environment is not suitable for providing such needs; so a child is exposed to strenuous conditions and is treated equally with mature grown-ups. Although, the treatment is equal across all ages, but the pay is not equal. With their diminutive nature, kids are underpaid and cannot conjure a strike for their own rights (Anderson, 2010).
Despite all this negativity, companies, especially, those in Asia, Africa and South America, are still adamant in employing them. Companies with myopic vision of increasing their turnover by minimizing their costs, especially, labor costs, are heavily involved in this inhumane practice. The vice has its roots in the industrial revolution where the children as young as four years old were exposed to life-threatening conditions. These early industries were adding their labor with little cost in the long-run.
The allegations against George W. Hill Correctional Facility were serious and might have negative effects if not handled well. NGOs involved in this issue were malicious. The main goal was to see the company’s downfall from our position as a global leader. The issue in mind was on which method we could use to mitigate the effects of the negative attention. It was necessary to confront the NGO managers in full view the media to sort out the issue. The NGO had aimed at receiving public sympathy. However, no parent would allow their children to undergo such harsh conditions at the benefit of a company. The company’s image to the public was bruised. Such an image is hard to change, but it can change depending on how the issue is approached.
The case of Nike during the late 1990s mirrors the facility’s dilemma. Thus, in 1996, the company experienced several riots against child labor. The boycott was sparked off by the photo of a young boy in Life magazine standing in front of pieces of soccer balls. Nike’s signed a contract with a Pakistan company called Saga. The company produced balls for the Nike Company. The region is a major producer of hand stitched footballs for the multinational company. The humanitarians concluded that Nike got into the Pakistan market with the full knowledge of the government’s lack of political will and lenience to such issues. Therefore, it is seen to have taken advantage of these factors in order to maximize its profits. Nike has a good public image as a result of its advertising efforts across the world. The company’s public image is filled with famous people. These people are like the famous Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and several sporting organizations that also have links to the company. These people, or brands, as they are well-known, wear the products produced by the company thereby advertising it. Also, Nike is involved in charitable activities all around the world, and this improves their relations with public (Jeurissen & Rijst, 2007).
In the age of technology and precisely social media, the company should utilize this platform in order to change the public perception of the company. The youth, who are the majority customers, access social sites like Twitter and Facebook almost hourly. If we can control the information read by the youth about the company, then we can change their perception about us amidst the allegations.
The use of public figures such as celebrities to market the facility’s clothing line might also help the company in the long run period. When the two strategies are used simultaneously, there is a possibility that the company might improve its public ratings. Young people idolize celebrities, and they will go to great costs in order to mimic their fashion sense. Popular celebrities are better since they can advertise the clothes on their social profiles. This is the solution I offered to the manger and left it as a project which might be implemented in the near future.
Initiatives Used to Broaden My Fieldwork Experience
In order to keep accurate records for the company, I initiated QuickBooks. The book keeping software is beneficial in a number of ways. Through implementation of the software, it became easier to perform accounting tasks since many of them are complicated to use as well as tedious to learn. This was possible since QuickBooks are designed to easy to comprehend even for people who do not have a background experience in finance or accounts.
QuickBooks is easy to incorporate with other programs whether they are similar or different. When incorporated with Microsoft Excel, the software was useful during recording and filing of income taxes. This enabled the compilation of income tax much easier compared to the previous years.
The QuickBooks was useful in the signing of checks after the woodwork transaction were made between the carpenters and buyers. This saved a lot of precious time for the management to upload their signatures. They also used the signatures to organize checks through an automated system. This process simplified the writing of checks. The automated system also enabled monitoring of financial dealings and tracking of cash.
Classes and Curriculum, which were Valuable in Preparation for the Experience
I had also learned other important subjects in my curriculum. I was well-conversant with preparation of most financial statements such as balance sheet, profit and loss account and ledgers among others. Additionally, I had learnt how to determine a fiscal year and a business period. My school curriculum also helped me to perform well in time planning and time management. Public relations and customer care services were also in my curriculum. Emergency response is another important unit which prepared me for the internship. I had learnt fire emergency response which is important in every organization as well as day to day life. Disaster management strategies also helped me to cope with every situation. Communication skills helped me throughout the internship.
At George W. Hill Correctional Facility, I started my career in management. I learned how to cut checks and do payroll. Furthermore, I learned how to put money on the inmate phone book. I was able to interview one of the new employees and manage other students as well as other managers when I was told to do so. All of this learning was done on computers. When the computers broke down, I was the student who fixed them. I learned what made computers tick and how to use the software. I was able to fix computer networking and build a network for a large group. The most important things I learnt were the ability to lead people who are skilled and passionate on a job. Also, I learned skills about practical life. I learned how to keep a schedule, and how to be responsible. I also learned how to live with people of other cultures and values. I achieved basic skills for life. I was able to start my career with the skills learned at the center.
Strategies that Can Be Adopted to Improve Management of the Project
If I was the project manager of the project, I would start by laying a background which would ease the work done by each team. I would initiate a resource plan in order to be able to understand and note work that ought to be done. I would come up with the human resource essential to complete the project. The resource planning would begin with by identifying the various departments that will be needed for the work to be completed and average number of people and time required.
Then I would proceed to get the right team and, this would be by selecting the most skilled personnel for the job. In order to get the experienced people, I would evaluate their skills and passion for the job, their networks and influential level in the company. I would also access their teamwork ability and their potential to grow within the company.
Convenient working relationship between the project manager and team members is necessary in order to connect for the benefit of colleagues and the company. This can be done through having the Human Resource arrange annual team building activities among other was that can be used. This is essential in order to enhance the group bond. It can also enhance results oriented individual working as a team but not just on an individual basis.
I would also consider if the project team works part-time. This is because the team members might have other work responsibilities for the project. This would be an essential step since the team members might have other assigned duties from their managers and this would prevent conflict. This would require prior arrangement to prevent conflict within different departments in the company. This way, the team members would be committed and would also be more likely to deliver work on time. It would be convenient to get commitment from the team through signing commitment forms in case there is a requirement to refer to it in the future.
Irrespective of whether the project team consists of full time or part time members, it would be my responsibility as the manger to define responsibilities of each member. This would be based on members’ capabilities and time allocated for the project. By defining specific duties, each member would be allocated specific duties in order to carry out the project efficiently. Queries and comments will be addressed before the project kicks off and also in the course of the project implementation. It is not easy to establish work related relationships once a project starts thus, a forum for addressing any issues with regards to the subject will be scheduled.
Managing the Team
The project manager should manage anticipation and hopes of the team members involved. This is done through agreeing on the terms and conditions necessary for the job. When the time comes for execution of the project, conflict are more likely to occur thus it is wise to solve and clarify everything before the project starts. As a project manager, I would allow members to discuss some of the terms and working conditions although some conditions would not be negotiable beforehand. I would use a team operating agreement to provide the basic rules necessary for the team to perform work effectively as a group. The document can be revised whenever there is a logical reason to do so. The team operating agreement would entail how communication between the team will be shared and where the document will be kept for confidentiality purposes. It would also clarify on how meetings will be lead, how time will be used, project goals and objective and where they will be held. It would define the roles and responsibilities and, it would entail on personal courtesies. Team members would be required to draft the team organization together and to sign it for commitment purposes. Once the project starts, team members will be required to give a report on a weekly basis with regards to their work progress. There would also be weekly meetings to discuss issues faced.
Enhancement of the Project Experience
During the internship, my written and oral communication skills were enhanced as well as my leadership and teamwork skills. However, to add on the experience, I would like to build on my customer service skills since I aim to manage my own business in the future. A customer is likely to buy another product if he/she is satisfied compared to when they are not. Customer satisfaction leads to the client becoming loyal and thus they can provide a steady stream of revenue. Good customer service ensures that a company uses little money to attract new clients. Therefore, the advertisement of products is done by word of mouth. Quality customer service also gives an edge on competitors.
From George W. Hill Correctional Facility, I learnt that I have unique experiences and observations to share with and I gained different skills from the internship opportunity. The expertise will help me to pursue my career goal, which is to become a business man. The five weeks at George W. Hill Correctional Facility (Delaware County Prison) in Pennsylvania influenced my career. I was in the Business Department and I believe that I have gained many skills that will be beneficial in my career growth.
- What is your position in your department?
- What are your daily activities?
- What is your perception of my performance during the internship process?
- What are your short term and long term goals?
- Which possible opportunities do see for yourself while working in the business department in this organization?
- What are your recommends for me to accelerate my career growth in the business world?
Anderson, E. (2010). Social media marketing game theory and the emergence of collaboration. Heidelberg, Springer.
Community Education Centers. Breaking the recidivism cycle. Retrieved from http://www.cecintl.com/facilities_sf_pa_001.html
Hobbs, S., Lavalette, M., & Mackechnie, J. (1999). Child labor: a world history companion. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.], ABC-CLIO.
Jeurissen, R, & Rijst, MWVD. (2007). Ethics in business. Assen, The Netherlands, Van Gorcum.