A Day in the Life of a Recent College Graduate

Vincent PerniceCarleigh Flynn is a recent college graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Previously, she was an intern in the human resources information and questions (HRIQ) department at PPD’s headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina. Since graduating, she applied and was successful for a full-time position as a HR coordinator in HRIQ , and started this new role in January 2016.

Interviewer: Is there life after graduation? What is post-graduate life like?

Flynn: Definitely. However, it’s a very different type of life. While in school, my life was based on classes, tests, and group projects. Post-graduation, my life is usually blocked from 8 to 5 with work, and then I have somewhat open evenings for my personal life. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is the free time on my hands. It was initially very strange to me that I could leave work at 5 and have an afternoon that didn’t revolve around prioritizing and managing my time for an upcoming assignment. While a feeling of freedom came over me for the first couple of weeks after graduation, another unexpected feeling started to creep in: boredom. This was something that I never, ever thought could exist in my life, but with the lack of a booked agenda, I started getting stir-crazy. I was so used to being in a hurry and on crunch time that the change to a laid-back lifestyle was surprisingly unwelcome. I gradually found that I could fill this time with activities that I previously couldn’t participate in. I joined a small community group, dove into local volunteer options and leisurely read a book series that I had been interested in for a while. Although not too spontaneous, these were activities that I couldn’t commit to while in school and working. Overall, I’d say that I’m still finding out who I am post-graduation, but luckily it’s an interesting exploration.

Interviewer: Describe your transition from being an intern to a full-time employee at PPD.

Flynn: Fortunately for me, I had a great internship at PPD with mentors who thoroughly prepared me for my full-time position. In my internship, I participated in projects, and was trained on assignments that eventually became tasks that I was responsible for once I became full-time. As a part-time intern, I actually looked forward to having more hours, so that I could invest more of myself into certain projects without splitting time with college commitments.

Interviewer: What similarities do you find between school and work?

Flynn: During college, I learned a lot about deadlines, teamwork, communication, prioritizing and time management. I now use these lessons every day in my career. In college, I worked closely with people from different backgrounds, different ways of life and different areas of interest. Through my experiences overcoming the challenges that arose, I was able to learn core skills that I use here at PPD.

Interviewer: Do you feel that your internship prepared you for your transition into a full-time role?

Flynn: Absolutely! Throughout my internship, I was involved in everything that the HRIQ is responsible for. I was able to shadow meetings, observe tasks that I wouldn’t necessarily be directly involved in, participate in cross-departmental gatherings and visit other sub-departments within HR. Collectively, I feel that this had a very positive impact on the move into a full-time position for me and for my trainers and department.

Interviewer: Did the university you attended prepare you for the “real world”?

Flynn: Yes! UNCW has a very successful mentorship program within the Cameron School of Business called the Cameron Executive Network (CEN). Basically, it’s an initiative by the business school to match students with experienced professionals who volunteer time out of their schedules to coach, meet with and provide advice to business students. Aside from the classroom, the lessons I learned from CEN meetings or from time spent with my mentor best prepared me for the expectations of the real world. The program really equipped me with the tools I needed to begin and flourish in my professional career.

Interviewer (addressing Flynn’s manager, Joan Gray): How has Carleigh made a difference at PPD since graduating?

Joan Gray, associate director of human resources: Carleigh is a major asset to our department. She has quickly learned our processes, procedures and day-to-day responsibilities. Carleigh currently helps with new hire orientations every Monday, and she processes high volumes of HR documentation that comes into the center. She also assists with immigration processing. Because Carleigh is such a quick learner, she quickly became a major contributor to the department. By providing our other two employees with relief, she has opened up capacity for those employees to accomplish some major tasks, and has contributed to our department’s ability to take on additional responsibilities.

Carleigh is currently assisting with a major audit of new hire paperwork that would take twice as long to complete without her help. She also provides backup support to her colleagues when they have to be out.

PPD offers a wide variety of internships that are located in both business and clinical environments. Internships at PPD provide students with a professional learning experience that is an extension of their classroom experiences in a real-world work environment. If you or anyone you know is interested in an internship at any of PPD’s locations, please contact Katharine Barrack at Katharine.Barrack@ppdi.com or connect with her through LinkedIn