HARMAN is driven by curiosity, creativity and collaboration in the quest to drive exceptional solutions that transform the car, the workplace and everywhere in between. To remain competitive, HARMAN draws upon the different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences of our people, including our interns. As a results-driven company, our interns are exposed to meaningful and challenging projects that unleash their inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit. And the best part? Many of these interns then stay with HARMAN to lend their talent full time.
We recently caught up with HARMAN’s Senior HR Coordinator of Lifestyle Audio, Annika Bastanchury and Ivo Poguntke, PR Specialist, Corporate Communications of Lifestyle Audio – two employees who transitioned from internship to full-time employee positions – to learn what attracted them to the company and their advice for students interning with companies across the globe.
When did you intern for HARMAN? How did you first become aware of the company and the opportunity?
Annika Bastanchury - I started as an intern for HARMAN in Spring 2016. While searching for local internship opportunities, the opportunity at HARMAN immediately caught my eye! I was familiar with HARMAN’s JBL brand, and after researching the company, I became very interested in the company’s extensive brand history and growth!
Ivo Poguntke - I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for HARMAN as an intern twice before becoming a full-time employee. As part of my college studies, I had to complete a 6-month internship with an international company. During my search back in 2011, it was rather by accident that I found an open internship position within HARMAN’s Automotive Audio Marketing team and accepted the position. About a year later, my former supervisor informed me about an open internship within Corporate Communications and put me in touch with the head of the department. I gladly jumped at the opportunity to return as a student during my last semester.
What was your role and what team were you on during that internship? Which team do you currently work with?
A.B. -I was a Human Resources Intern within the Lifestyle Consumer HR team, reporting to Jay Soriano, Senior Manager of Human Resources. I have been on the same team and reporting to the same manager since then.
I.P. - In 2011, my first 6-month internship was with the Marketing team for Car Audio Europe in Karlsbad, Germany. I supported the team with different marketing initiatives and incentive programs for our European automotive customers. I truly gained an understanding of the automobile industry and from then on definitely had it on my list of industries I wanted to work in. When I returned about a year later as an intern, I started working in the Corporate Communications department in Europe. One of my first projects was the HARMAN Experience Days, an open house event for employees, media and students that was organized at our location in Straubing, Germany. Besides the Corporate projects, we also were responsible for PR and communications for our automotive business, both Connected Car and Car Audio. The department I interned for was looking for an entry-level candidate once I graduated, and felt fortunate to be accepted for the position. That was in early 2013, and here I am - currently in my 6th year as a full-time employee at HARMAN.
What was your intern experience like? Was there any one moment or aspect of the experience that made you realize you wanted to work here full time after graduation?
A.B. - I had a wonderful intern experience! As I was working part-time during school, I was able to take what I was learning in class and apply it to my internship and vice versa. I was able to get a lot of hands-on experience and work closely with the HR team in Northridge, California. My manager always remained transparent with me and exposed me to as much of the HR world as possible during my internship.
I.P. – While interning in the Marketing department I was able to gather insights into working with major automotive brands, which was very compelling. I’d say it was also the breadth of the projects and variety of tasks that made me excited to apply for a full-time position. The combination of working for our automotive business, where we work with the world’s most admired car manufacturers while offering them access to our renowned brands and cutting-edge technologies, and the corporate side, which gave me exposure to the other divisions and businesses, was what I found to be so interesting. More importantly though, I worked with great colleagues who were supportive, took time to explain topics and tasks that were new to me, and assigned more responsibilities to me over time, so I could grow project by project.
How long after you interned at HARMAN were you hired full time? Did you stay in touch with your HARMAN colleagues during that time?
A.B. - I was hired full-time right after graduating college. There was no gap between my internship and new full-time role.
I.P. – I became a full-time employee directly after my second internship. After the completion of each internship position, I made sure to stay in touch with my colleagues.
What was it like making the transition to a full-time employee here at HARMAN? Were you able to draw upon experiences gained in your internship as you grew into a full-time role?
A.B. - My transition from an intern to a full-time employee was very smooth. Of course, the new role had added responsibilities and challenges, but the experience I gained during my internship translated directly into my new position. I had already established relationships, which helped me as I navigated through and became more comfortable with my new role.
I.P. – The transition itself, at least in my case worked smoothly, as I literally became a full-time employee overnight, without any interruption after my time as a student intern. I found that spending the internships with HARMAN was an enormous plus when starting as a full-time employee. I already knew most of the people I was going to work with and had by that time a good understanding of the company’s overall values, but also how the department and team worked. Since I continued working for Corporate Communications also as a full-time employee, I was familiar with all the routine tasks, which meant I could take off some of the work from my boss’ desk right from the beginning, allowing our team to acquire new interesting projects and support other departments.
What would your advice be for current interns to get the most out of their time with a company?
A.B. - I would encourage current interns to make as many connections as possible during their time at HARMAN or any company! Look for opportunities to work with people from different departments to help broaden your view of the business. Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and any chance you get to work on something new or outside your day-to-day responsibilities, take advantage of it.
I.P. –My advice is to remain proactive and ask smart questions, meaning ask your supervisor if you feel you need additional information to help understand the big picture. Don’t be satisfied with knowing only what you have to do, but broaden your view and understand how your individual contribution ladders up to something bigger. Also be courageous and ask for work and additional new tasks, thereby proofing to your team you can take on the responsibility.
Are you a young, brilliant mind looking to gain hands-on experience with a fast-paced, innovative technology company? If so, check out our internship positions on our careers page. And who knows, maybe your internship can turn into a full time position just like Annika and Ivo! https://www.harman.com/careers