I had the opportunity to intern with payroll and the general HR function for the summer. I had flexibility (working part time, I could choose what two days I worked every week). I was given more freedom to make decisions and implement tactics than you would normally get with an intern position. The company is smaller, so I was able to work along with and consult the CEO and work with every department with available information. We worked through compliance and ran an audit spanning the whole company, and my managers were supportive and trusting to let me really grow my abilities. We also expanded our inclusion initiatives to include Latin American workers better and offer resources in Spanish for those who are not strong in English.
What I wish was different
The company is still smaller, so many HR functions were split between people in different positions such as accounting, bookkeeping, and frontline managers. I learned so much, but my experience was not under an experienced HR professional with centralized responsibilities.
My advice from this experience is to go do something in your field, even if it is not exactly what you want to do. I want to go into training and development, but interned with payroll and worked with compliance. My experiences outside my narrow focus enriched my understanding of HR and business in general. Additionally, just having a first internship on my resume has drawn in multiple other opportunities in the specific positions I want to go into. If you work hard, give your best, and learn as much as you can, then that knowledge and experience will show through in interviews and boost your confidence in looking for jobs.