June 22, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Ivona Kolak will never be accused of talking too much shop.
Despite landing a really good summer internship, one in which she gets to do something she really enjoys and is really happy about, she can’t tell you much more about it — other than that it’s really good, she gets to do something she really enjoys and is really happy about.
“My summer’s been great. I’m actually having an internship with the Office of Human Resources here on campus at Georgia Tech,” said the senior outside hitter from Kastel Gomilica, Croatia. “It is weird because people want to know what I do, do I like it? How is it? All I say is, ‘It’s good’ and ‘I like it.’
“It’s really hard not to talk about it but that’s the point of working in human resources, that it’s confidential and you see stuff that other people should not see,” she added. “If you want to know more about it and you’re interested in it try it and then you’ll know.”
Getting the job in human resources was a matter of taking the initiative then, when opportunity presented itself, taking advantage of it. She’d worked in the office during the spring and when she broached the idea of working there over the summer, she found her boss, Doug Podoll in Global Human Resources, very supportive.
“I worked like six hours per week and then after that I knew I wanted to find an internship for the summer so I asked if I could stay for the summer,” she said. “As an international student you need to get authorization to work on campus. That’s called OPT. So I had to pay for that. I was kind of late. I asked if I can intern in the Office of Human Resources. Mr. Podoll liked the idea and he said that I did a great job in the spring and he didn’t see why I shouldn’t continue working with them. So that’s how I got an internship.”
Kolak discovered early on in her three-month internship that getting through a 20-hour work week was as hard, if not harder, than getting through any red tape to get the job in the first place.
“I’ve never experienced working 20 hours per week,” she said. “I worked when I was in high school as a receptionist and I worked in a travel agency but that was just part time. It would be 10 hours or maybe like seven hours, something like. I worked this spring as a student-assistant and I worked six hours. But now it’s like 20 hours. It’s so different but I enjoy it. Right now I’m being able to see how it is out there in the real world and how it is in the working world. It’s really exciting and I really like it.”
An added perk is that the extra hours of work and the working to keep a lid on what she does while there still allows her plenty of time to do what she loves best. That’s playing volleyball.
The combination of work and play adds up to quite a full day.
“My day actually starts at 7 a.m., when I get up for workouts. I have workouts from 7:30 to 9:00. Then after workouts I go to work from 10 to 3,” she said. “After work I go back to my apartment, make lunch or something and then I go to the gym, play volleyball, play beach volleyball.
“I play beach volleyball a lot,” she continued. “I would not change that for anything. My friends say, ‘Oh, do you want to go out?’ I would rather play beach volleyball or indoor volleyball than do something else. I’ll really enjoy it until the season, because I’m not going to play beach in the season, so I just take this time.”
She plans to similarly take advantage of her final season and school year — she graduates in the spring with a Business major and an operations and supply chain management concentration. In fact, she’s more than willing to talk about her excitement about the upcoming season.
“This is the best spring that I’ve had in three years,” she said. “I’m really excited about this fall, especially with five incoming freshmen that are bringing something that we might be missing, like lots of excitement or passion that we’ve forgotten from us playing in high school coming to college. So I’m really excited about everything. We, as a team, improved a lot this spring. It showed in all the games that we played. So I think it’s going to be a great season and I’m really excited about it.”
Of course, to anyone asking, her future is much like her current internship, on a need-to-know basis.
“I have plenty of options. Right now I’m thinking about maybe going back and playing volleyball, continue playing beach volleyball,” said Kolak, who has had conversations with her old coach in Croatia about playing professionally. “It all depends. I will know more about it after our season is over. I’ll know more if I want to continue with volleyball or not and if I want to continue with volleyball I want to stay here and find a job and continue working.”