Lluvia Hernandez-Aguirre

Lluvia Hernandez Aguirre

"The Illinois Tollway, with its summer internship program, provided me an unforgettable experience. I learned, I grew, I connected, and I contributed, leaving me with a renewed sense of purpose and determination as I finish my degree."

1. What did a typical workday look like? How was the workplace environment?

This was a hybrid position. There were certain days of the week that I would central to the office in Downers Grove, or CA (Central Administration) as Tollway employees would call it, and there were other days where I worked from home. On days where I would head in to CA, I would head to my cubicle, and quickly look through my emails before walking over to my mentor’s cubicle to have our daily meeting. In this meeting, we would discuss how I’m feeling with the work I’ve been doing so far, if I had any questions, or if there was another department that I wanted to try out, and so on. Then, before adjourning, we would discuss my tasks for the day. Such tasks usually consisted of getting together questions and tests for the day’s interviewees, getting into contact with the other members of each panel of interviewers, and input the data into the scoring system the Tollway uses for selection purposes.

The work environment was very supportive. I was surrounded by many different people, especially my assigned mentor, who was very supportive of my intention of pursuing talent acquisition and were more than happy to answer all of my questions. Also, my mentor understood that I wanted to get firsthand knowledge and experience of what positions I was assisting him in hiring for, and helped me get a number of “shadowing” days in other departments of the organization.

2. How did this experience help focus your academic and career paths?

This experience helped me understand that I was pursuing the career that I actually wanted to be in. I think a lot of times, we as students forget that there is way more to a career path than what is taught in classes in textbooks. Oftentimes, there are additional factors present that an individual may not be aware of until they are in the position. However, this experience reassured me that this kind of role is a great for me and that I should continue on the path that I was on.

3. What advice would you give to a student considering an internship?

I would tell the student to go for it, without a doubt. An internship, more than anything else, is a learning experience, a very beneficial one. It is a chance to see the concepts you’ve studied in class be applied in real time, and provides the opportunity to make connections as well. Overall, an internship is a great idea, and I highly encourage anyone who’s thinking of taking one to do so.

4. Best piece of advice you were given during your internship:

The best piece of advice I was given during my internship, was to stay connected. Networking and staying connected through LinkedIn or other platforms is very important! My mentor and other Tollway personnel told me to make sure I stay in touch, as they would be more than happy to welcome me back or get connected somewhere else after graduation. My mentor stressed this greatly to me, making sure that I understood that he, along with everyone else, genuinely meant that they were more than happy to help me however they could. To make connections and use them was the best advice I received during my internship.

5. Is there anything you did not expect about the experience?

I did not expect to be traveling for this internship. There were some days where I would travel to universities and community centers that were hosting job fairs, where I would sit at a table with another Tollway employee and spoke about the open position and other programs that the organization had to offer. Therefore, in addition to interviewing and screening applicants, I often took on more of a marketing/salesperson role at these events, adding another dimension that I was not expecting to the recruiter role. However, this was an experience that I also enjoyed and learned a lot from.

6. What is one of your most memorable moments?

One of my most memorable moments was at the end of the internship when I won the Best Intern of the Year Award and my mentor won the Best Mentor of the Year Award. Many of the other interns and some of the other mentors were impressed with my determination, ambition, and with the results of one of the larger projects that I had been working on. Because of this and a number of other reasons, I won this award, and it was one of my favorite moments of the entire experience.