Business Center

Intern Success Story: Clair Anderson

By Campbell Pontin, Media and Marketing Intern

April 3, 2019

As a recent graduate with a Master’s of Arts in Psychological Sciences with a concentration in Organizational Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Clair Anderson saw an internship at the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Office of Process Improvement (OPI) as an effective avenue to translate her classroom knowledge into tangible real-world experience. Clair interned with OPI from September 2017 to January 2018, and subsequently continued her CDOT work by interning with the Human Resources (HR) office, and now works as the Staff Development Center Supervisor at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF).

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Passion Projects

During her time with CDOT, Clair was able to work on several projects that put her degree to good use, including conducting an analysis of statewide employee engagement. As she explains, “We took the engagement survey data provided by the state and reviewed the previous goals and outcomes from the strategic fiscal year prior.” Based on those results, Clair developed reports for each of CDOT’s five Regions. Clair also created the intern skills matrix during her internship with OPI, which allows interns to input various skills and track their progression in these capabilities throughout their internship.

One of the biggest challenges Clair faced during her internship was transitioning her skills from the classroom to the workplace. She states, “We get some great theory in our education...But the way everything actually happens in real time is different. You almost feel like you can’t do as much as the book tells you you can.” She was able to overcome this with continued support from her supervisors, emphasizing, “Trust that leadership is there for your best interest.”

An Elevated Experience

Clair appreciated the caliber of work that interns contribute to at CDOT, saying, “The internships bring a truly great opportunity to work with a variety of people, at various employment levels, across CDOT. This is an experience a lot of individuals don’t get exposure to until they’ve worked in the field for two or three years.” She was given the chance to present her employee engagement reports to Regional management in Pueblo, citing the experience as a fantastic networking opportunity providing exposure to executive management that is uncommon for internships at other organizations.

Interns also bring tremendous value to CDOT. Clair notes that, “Interns bring continued fresh perspectives on many topics currently occurring in industry...At CDOT, this means that every eight months to a year, there’s a brand new set of eyes coming in with a whole new skill set, and facilitating a culture of different types of background consistently enables OPI, HR, and all CDOT offices that hire interns to ensure their representation is always in best practice. Having a team of interns from various backgrounds means always keeping up relevant industry trends, tools, and skill-sets.”

Opportunity to Explore

When asked about her advice for future interns, Clair highlighted the importance of exploration. “Don’t be afraid to change. Don’t be afraid to question the status quo. Just take a chance. Keep taking chances. This internship is the time when no one’s really asking you to stay in one lane. So, walk in as many lanes as you can, because exploration is a great way to help you identify your unique path, to help you find your career ‘home’.”

How Do I Hire Interns?

Learn about how to utilize CDOT’s internship program in your division by referencing the CDOT Collegiate Internship Handbook.