Welcoming Fresh Perspectives: Summer 2021 H&R Block Interns
Twenty-four interns join H&R Block this summer for remote and hybrid internships across the company. They’ll take part in a 10-week program, meeting with senior leadership at H&R Block and engaging in projects to gain work experience in their areas of interest, many supporting Block’s three imperatives: small business, financial products, and a new approach to consumer tax.
With continued safety measures in place due to the pandemic, their internships will look a little different from those prior. For their first day, some interns came together safely to network, collect their badges and equipment, and tour the headquarters building. Others, fully remote, tuned in virtually for onboarding activities after receiving their equipment at home.
“Being a new associate at Block is special—every moment is a learning moment, and for our FY22 interns it’s no different,” said Sarah Lauck, vice president of people and culture, talent and belonging. “What is really refreshing is the perspectives and curious nature that this class of interns brings to us, opening our eyes in new ways as we work to accomplish our Block Horizons 2025 strategy. In addition to a great opportunity to learn, there are also what I call “belonging moments” for each of them as they connect with our associates, and also with each other since they’re coming from various schools and cultural backgrounds, and a variety of chosen college majors.”
The internship program, which has taken place annually for the past 10 years, generally hosts 20-25 interns for paid internships throughout the organization. Meet just a few of this year’s interns below.
Giordanno Castro, DIY Intern
Castro, an international student from Peru, is studying computer science at the University of Kansas. He landed at KU after one of his closest friends received a scholarship to go to KU from Peru and told him about the great college environment in Lawrence, Kansas. Hearing that, he decided to apply for the same scholarship.
After first obtaining his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2016, Castro returned to KU for his master’s and expects to graduate at the end of 2021.
His master’s will focus in analytics, which was also a main driver for returning to school. “Most careers in analytics require some kind of post-grad education,” said Castro.
His internship with H&R Block is on the DIY team, where he’ll focus on applying data analytics, including customer trends and behaviors. Castro hopes to gain experience working both on the customer side and the programming side, and to help H&R Block make the most of his internship.
“I want to get a deeper understanding about how to apply statistics and programming to a real-life setting. I don’t just want to focus on developing technology for another company, I want to develop technology that can help a team and help customers as well,” said Castro.
Longer term, Castro is still exploring careers, especially as computer sciences offers so many career paths.
Isabella Elwell, IT Intern
Elwell comes from a family of engineers and is a senior at the University of Missouri studying industrial engineering. “I didn’t want to do the building side of engineering. Industrial is more about the systems, background and efficiencies,” said Elwell.
Elwell is in a dual program, so this fall she’ll begin taking master’s level courses as a senior and graduate with her MBA the following year.
As a business analyst intern in the IT department, Elwell will work on systems improvement and computer coding to gain additional work experience. She’s interned in the past with other Kansas City-area organizations, like JE Dunn Construction and the Kauffman Foundation.
As for the future, she hasn’t decided her final career path. Right now, she’s exploring careers on both the engineering and business sides of her educational background and hoping this internship helps her decide.
Jonaie Johnson, Product & Experience Intern
Originally from Chicago, Johnson is a college basketball player, an entrepreneur, and a newly graduated senior—she obtained her bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from the University of Missouri-Kansas City this May after just three years.
Johnson has been an entrepreneur since a young age—first selling custom bracelets to friends and family in elementary school, and then selling snacks in her middle school because they didn’t have a vending machine. In high school, she got more seriously into entrepreneurship through a class where she had to come up with a business and create a plan around it. This idea became Interplay—an interactive dog crate that allows pet parents to monitor their dogs and dispense treats and food via an app.
In 2020, Johnson was honored as the Henry W. Bloch School’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year for her work building Interplay. She’s also part of the E-Scholars program offered through UMKC, which helps students take a company from an idea through to launch.
“That’s also a major reason why I came to UMKC, because of the entrepreneurial program, and the Bloch School. Once I was accepted into the E-Scholars program was when I was really able to get my company established.”
After her internship this summer with H&R Block, which is her first, she’ll head back to school in the fall as an incoming MBA student.
“Being an entrepreneur, you have to work, you have to grind, you have to start something from scratch. So, you do have to have that vision and drive. It’s no different from basketball,” said Johnson. “You have to have that same vision…to know where you want to be, what type of player you want to be.”
A student athlete for years, Johnson is no stranger to hard work. But as a result, she’s had little time to build her resume through work experience at companies outside of her own. She’s most excited for the opportunity this internship presents to gain work experience and explore possible career paths for the future—beyond CEO of her own business. And, just one week into her internship, she shared she’s already found lessons to apply to Interplay.
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