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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Grace Coulter Grace Coulter

A Day in the Life of Grace Coulter

The business management major is participating in a virtual summer internship at Bank of the West.
By Fowler College of Business News Team

San Diego State University students share their experiences participating in summer internships.

Hi, everyone! My name is Grace Coulter, and I’m a senior at San Diego State University graduating in December 2021. I currently serve as vice president of the Society for Humans Resource Management (SHRM) and am majoring in business management with a specialization in human resource management. My interest in human resources (HR) was ignited due to my passion for helping people. I strive to play a significant role in supporting positive and inclusive environments. I am working as an HR Employee Relations Intern at Bank of the West. This summer, Bank of the West is hosting its largest ever, 11-week virtual internship program, and I am one of two HR interns. 

I discovered this opportunity in March and was immediately drawn to the Bank’s commitment to promoting change through its sustainability and diversity efforts, including the organization’s focus on supporting energy transition, enabling women entrepreneurs, and financing innovative start-ups. When I was offered the position, I was beyond thrilled and excited to begin learning how I could add value to the Employee Relations team which works remotely and whose team members are based throughout the U.S.

A typical day in the life of my remote internship is as follows: 

7 a.m. – I get my day started by preparing my workspace, pouring a cup of coffee, and creating a framework of the tasks I plan to complete that day on my notepad. I also take some time to reflect on my prior workday. I keep a journal to track my progress and outline daily goals to maximize productivity. 

8 a.m. – I check my email, and review the scheduled meetings on my calendar. Depending on what my day is looking like, I will message my manager to discuss my agenda and coordinate times during the day we are able to connect. My tip for accumulating as much knowledge as possible over the course of a virtual internship is to make a list of specific, measurable goals to accomplish every morning and at the end of the day log three new things you learned. 

8:30 a.m. – I attend the Employee Relations (ER) team huddle conference call. During this call, members of the team will share updates that have an impact on team members across the Bank’s footprint. This informal meeting involves receiving input from one another and brainstorming potential solutions.

9 a.m. – I generally have a couple of hours to work on my current projects, either autonomously or with my manager. During the first half of my internship, I constructed a new HR agile site for collecting specific information relative to the work Bank of the West is spearheading on the employee front. In the second half of my internship, I will be working on a project that involves analyzing the employee handbook. 

From my first day on the job, my manager has provided me with ample opportunities to meet with HR professionals and leaders within the organization to learn about their career paths. If I am not working on a project, I am on the phone on a “listening tour” to gain insights on a day in the life of one of the senior-level team members. 

11:30 a.m. – Once a week, I touch base with my mentorand talk about what I have been learning over the previous week and my long-term career goals. I have enjoyed asking questions about how the ER team approaches certain cases and the life cycle of an investigation.

12 p.m.  During my break, it is important to step away from my computer and change the scenery. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is important when working from home. My favorite ways to reset are stretching, sitting outside in the sun, and reading.  

1 p.m. – I log back into my computer and attend either an ADA accommodation or investigation strategy meeting. These separate meetings entail evaluating ADA accommodations and investigating other employee relations issues, respectively. In these meetings, considerations of cases are reviewed and discussed amongst ER Partners. 

2 p.m. – At least once a week, the intern class attends a development workshop or a Key Speaker Series event that is incorporated into our work schedules. Workshops are structured like a crash course and cover a variety of personal and professional development topics ranging from financial literacy to effective communication. Interns attend an intern social hour on Fridays where we gather in breakout room sessions to get to know interns working in other departments.

3 p.m. – For the remaining few hours of my day, I continue to work on my current projects until I log out of my computer at 5 p.m. and look forward to doing it all again tomorrow!

One of the greatest benefits of working in a virtual environment is having the ability to interact cross-functionally. I never imagined I would be welcomed into a corporate culture with such open arms. While I have missed collaborating with my colleagues face-to-face, this role has taught me how to embrace ambiguity and prepare to enter an ever-changing workplace landscape. Furthermore, this internship has allowed me to apply my knowledge and strengths to a business setting and has solidified my decision to pursue an HR career. 

All in all, during the short time I have been with Bank of the West, I have seen the impressive effort of the HR team to build and maintain esprit de corps across the entire organization. My experience has influenced my perspective of what it means to be an HR professional and how I can leverage my capabilities to excel in the future. Having the chance to look behind the curtain has been valuable, taking the mystery out of the inner workings of a corporate employee relations team and how important decisions are made. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to be a member of such a dynamic and supportive team.