A World Class Internship with Volvo Group

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Hi, I’m Jo!

13221264_1008611222526785_5554647521607691532_oI will be graduating from the communication department in December 2016. My concentration is Strategic Communication, and my minor is Entrepreneurship – a division of the business department. This year, I moved to West Virginia when my fiance and I bought a home in Inwood. I am writing this post as Jo Lohr, but by the time you read it I will be Jo Mahaney! 2016 is also the year I opened Photography by Jo, LLC.

During my years at Shepherd, I have been an RA, managed the Rams Volleyball team, and worked with the Rude Mechanicals. My sophomore year, I interned for Charles Town Now before receiving an internship offer from Volvo Group Trucks in May 2015. I spent a year and a half with Volvo, and have just accepted a position as a Communication Specialist at Brethren Mutual Insurance Company in Hagerstown, MD.

Getting the Job

I interviewed for a communications internship with Volvo Group Trucks in Hagerstown, MD, in March of 2015. My resume featured mostly work experience, and my job as an RA and my previous internship with Charles Town Now made me an attractive candidate. In retrospect, I should have listed more details about significant and relevant class projects and the skills I gained from them.

The interview was not what I expected. I studied the Volvo Group values and mission to prepare for the interview, looked up common interview questions, and practiced how I might talk myself up. The communications manager had hardly any questions for me about previous jobs, but talked extensively about specific projects she would want me to handle and asked how I might do things differently than she had in the past. I elaborated on some specific skills and platforms that might be useful for those projects. A few days later, I was offered the internship and started work at Volvo in May 2015.

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Working for a Global Company

Volvo Group is based in Sweden, and the site in Hagerstown employs about 1,400 people. The site is 1.5 million square feet, and is dual-branded. The challenge as a communications department was to consistently reach, engage, and inspire all these employees on a daily basis. It’s a fast-paced environment, which means our news is changing fast too. We utilized email, digital information boards, bulletin boards, advertisements, flyers, a variety of print and digital newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube/video, articles and photos which we shared on our Intranet, as well as engagement and appreciation events. The job demanded high-energy, fast turnaround, and a long list of skills.

I am so thankful to have had a wonderful manager and mentor. She treated me as an equal and expert in my field, viewing the fact that I was a student intern as a valuable asset to help her learn the most recent practices in communication. When I started my internship, my writing and photography skills were my strengths, but I had never used InDesign or dabbled much in print layout. My manager challenged me to learn, and by the time my internship ended, I had mastered the kind of tasks that scared me when I started. After I made an impression and developed a good working relationship with my manager, my 3 month internship was extended to 15 months.

img_3211My manager often let me own projects and work independently. The longer my internship lasted, the longer my list of independent projects grew. At Volvo, I got the chance to work with other departments in Hagerstown, help plan events that had attendees from all over the world, take photographs for a magazine that ships to every Volvo Group employee worldwide, develop new communications platforms for Volvo, and to onboard and help train the next communications intern (also a Shepherd student!).

Plus, I got to drive Volvo and Mack trucks, and “meet” Megatron!

Turning My Internship into My Capstone

I don’t want to give too much of my capstone away yet, but being a dual-branded manufacturing site comes with many challenges. During my internship, our business entity went under new leadership and went through a culture shift. It was our job as a communication team to aid that culture change and communicate the new mission, vision, and values in a way that inspires employees and makes them proud to work for a company like Volvo. If you’re interested in hearing about what we did, come see me & the other Shep Comm seniors at the end of the semester at the capstone presentations!

A World Class Internship Experience

The internship program at Volvo encourages students to find a way to leave a mark on the company that propels both the student and the company forward. The leadership at the site challenges students to come up with projects to improve the company, and recognizes them for their accomplishments. In addition, they pay their interns generously, provide additional training and educational resources, and offer dorm-style housing for interns if needed. Site-wide, there are anywhere from a dozen to thirty interns and co-ops each term who get to experience this world class internship together. It is a 3-month, immersive, educational experience that is life-changing and resume-boosting!

Taking the Experience With Me

At Volvo, I sat in on inter-department meetings, participated on committees, worked on projects with other sites, and learned a lot about business acumen. My extended internship provided me with the experience I needed to land my first job – communications specialist at Brethren Mutual Insurance Company. My day-to-day tasks in the new job are nearly identical to what I was doing at Volvo, and the transition has been incredibly smooth.

Are YOU the next Volvo Group Communication Intern?

Every semester, unless the previous intern is doing another term, the Volvo Group Communication Team takes applications for the next communication intern. You can apply online by searching for open jobs on volvogroup.com. Search under “communication & sustainability affairs.” Jobs are posted several months before the semester begins, and the posting is usually only open for a couple weeks. You will need a resume and cover letter to apply. Consider designing your resume & letter to make it stand out. The internship is incredibly competitive, and a great career-starter! Those majoring in communication, graphic design, or marketing would be great fits for the position. If you’d like more information about the position, reach out to me at jlohr01@rams.shepherd.edu. I would love to be able to recommend a fellow Shepherd student for the job! Other internships are available in nearly every department at Volvo, including engineering, continuous improvement, finance, purchasing, human resources, safety, environmental care, and people development/training.

You can find Volvo Group on social media, too!

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This entry was posted in COMM 450: Internship in Communication, Students by jlohr01. Bookmark the permalink.

About jlohr01

Hi, I'm Jo! I am a communications specialist at Brethren Mutual Insurance Company, and a strategic communication & entrepreneurship student at Shepherd University scheduled to graduate in December 2016. I am a West Virginia resident, small business owner/photographer, fiance, and care-taker of 9 furry friends. One of my life goals is to find channels to encourage & educate women about entrepreneurship, spreading the message that entrepreneurship is a vehicle through which anyone can control income barriers, lifestyle, their time, and create wealth that leads to the ability to be charitable and building great family life.

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