Personal Experience: The Western Union Internship Program

Career By Andy Wheeler April 17, 2019

Since joining the Western Union team in early February as an Intern for their HQ pilot internship program, my experience has been everything I expected and more. This was my first internship with any company, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time working on the Talent Acquisition team doing what I love in marketing and social media. I’ve learned a great deal, interacting with the various Human Resource (HR) teams, as well as Brand, Legal, the Western Union Foundation, and our WU Way teams around the world. Being a part of Talent Acquisition during this time, I never knew the ins and outs of making human resources run for a company with over 10,000 employees worldwide. HR does an amazing job connecting with colleagues and finding real-time solutions every day. I’ve also learned how important HR is for the success and health of Western Union and organizations in general.

As an Intern at Western Union I’ve broadened my knowledge and helped build a strong employer brand and social media presence. I’ve also been given opportunities to better understand how a large company operates and how each department collaborates for the success of each other and the organization. The people here have been wonderful. Knowing I’m an Intern, they’ve welcomed me and treated me with the same respect as a colleague they’ve known for years. My daily tasks and internship projects have been both challenging and rewarding, and I have always felt like I have something to do or contribute.

I was asked to share some advice for future Interns, no matter the company, so here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up during my time here:

  • Be ready for hard work with a big payoff. In a very short time, you will learn lessons that will carry you in your career.
  • Come ready to learn as much as possible about your company. Take in everything you can, and it will broaden your understanding of the organization.
  • Push yourself to grow personally and professionally. Listen to feedback and share your own perspective whenever the opportunity strikes.
  • Use your time wisely. Time management is essential for getting work done. I made great use of my calendar, made daily lists of my tasks and questions for others, and found it more effective to focus on one task at a time.

While here, I also asked my fellow Interns to share some thoughts on their experiences and advice they have for future Interns. Dakota Gutierrez, who works in our Global Total Rewards team within HR, described his Western Union internship experience as, “packed full of learning! It was focused on work, yes, and, about understanding how this company works and the many departments, functions and roles Western Union has. It has taught me what working at a large corporation will be like. It hasn’t been as intimidating as I thought it would be. My colleagues have taught me a great deal and were there to help and give project guidance and advice. This is the true value in companies like WU having a robust internship program.”

Andy: “What advice would you have for future interns interested in Western Union?”

Western Union Interns

Dakota: “My advice would be to use your time wisely and to use this time to learn as much as possible from others. Talk to as many people as you can to better understand what they do and how they fit into the big picture. For me, this has helped me further define where I want to go within the HR profession. I would advise you to proactively pursue your personal and team project work. Don’t wait for people to get back to you or you may fall behind. Using meetings, instant messaging, and other collaboration tools can most times get you much quicker results than shooting them an email.”

I asked my other fellow Intern, Jason Sellers, an HR Generalist, about his personal experience. “In the beginning, there was a steep learning curve that required plenty of research coupled with lots of trial and error. But as time progressed, company goals and processes became better defined, increasing the clarity of my assignments. Gaining exposure to almost every HR function in a corporate environment has increased my HR intuition; this invaluable knowledge will serve me well as I progress in my career. I have enjoyed watching my colleagues from Costa Rica, Canada, Lithuania and across North America help drive the Western Union strategy and vision. It has been a humbling and rewarding experience!”

When asked to share his advice for future Interns, Jason eagerly says, “Come hungry and ready to learn! If you’re interested in seeing a global company, one that employs a truly diverse workforce and drives a global vision, then you’ve found the right internship at WU!”

Dominique Tucker, Executive Assistant to Western Union Chief of Human Resource Officer Richard Williams, creator of the pilot internship program here at headquarters, and my personal onboarding buddy, shared a bit about the expectations she set for the program. “There have been internships here in the past, but none that were part of an organized program with both individual and team assignments and examining so many functions across our organization. I am thankful to my colleagues who stepped up as our first hiring managers and helped me create a well-defined program that is beneficial for both the Interns and the company. My main goal was for the Interns to be completely immersed in their businesses for these 12 weeks and really contribute to the dynamic and inspiring work that WU does. The Interns have been extremely helpful in relieving capacity as well as providing fresh perspectives and new solutions. I’ve done some growing myself in building this program, deepening my understanding about Western Union, our goals, and how leadership sets priorities and drives the business. This pilot program was a great start, showing me ways to improve moving forward. I am looking forward to building a sustainable program that offers students the chance to hone their skills as they prepare to enter a global workforce and providing new and diverse talent, ideas, and skills to the teams at Western Union.”

Andy: “How would you describe your experience leading this pilot internship program?”

Domonique: “The Western Union leadership team and my colleges have been very supportive and resourceful while defining the program. I appreciate that WU leaders truly value mentorship and see the importance of providing real-world experience for students. The workforce is constantly changing, so Western Union is proactively testing new ways to attract and retain top talent for the company. Local Colorado college faculty are very excited about the opportunities that we are providing and have validated that this is exactly what students need. This experience has been an amazing growth opportunity for myself as a leader and I am excited to help scope the program on a global scale.”

As for me, it has been a remarkable journey with my fellow Interns with Domonique guiding us along the way. I will take the knowledge and skills I’ve gained here and use it wherever I go professionally. If you are a current university student or recent college graduate, looking for an impactful experience, consider a company like Western Union. I want to thank the teams and leaders at WU, for offering a program like this, and giving me a chance to better myself individually and professionally.