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SHR Orientation Starts the Year Right

By Theodore Prime

September 1, 2021

Each fall, students of the Full-Time MBA program break off into daylong orientation programs specific to their specializations. Center Day is an influential experience for self-realization, degree planning, and career-building opportunities.

An Exercise in Vulnerability

The small yet mighty group of eight HR students commenced the day with conversations on imperfections to break from traditional MBA discussions of their Gallup strengths. This initial exercise encouraged students to engage, share, and highlight authentic vulnerabilities that united the HR MBAs. Within this intimate group setting, students shared the following imperfections that were common among millennial professionals actively trying to find their way in the world: personality flaws (procrastination, being forgetful, stubbornness, being shy), unique quirks (hating mail, obsessiveness over little things), and lifelong learning challenges (math, weight management). Center Director Charlie Trevor’s courage to start Day 1 on this note set the tone for the Center’s culture. The key takeaway from this lesson was that early introspection can help create close-knit, supportive, and inclusive communities.

Career Coach Time

Career Coach Betsy Golomski led an energetic session about logistics for the fall since HR recruiting starts early. Her services include internship search support, resume and cover letter reviews, personal elevator pitch advisory, and more. As a modern career coach, she is highly responsive and willing to help students through various channels of communication (email, in-person, and all mainstream collaboration tools). Typical avenues for learning about HR opportunities are Wisconsin recruiting partners, career fairs (both national and campus), self-guided searches, and weekly job blasts.

From there, she led a panel discussion with three 2nd year MBAs: Renita Clayton (interned at Edward Jones), Bethany Noltner (interned at BP), and Masuma Zulfakar (interned at Ford). The 2nd year MBAs shared insights about their intern projects that ranged from building organizational HR dashboards, a global employee branding initiative, and auditing non-union policies for compliance.

Some tips these students utilized to overcome internship learning curves were understanding company vernacular, breaking projects into phases, familiarizing oneself with internal online resources/databases, professional networking (within their internship teams, creating personal networks, and external departments), and advocating for oneself. With the professional push from UW’s career team, the 2nd year MBAs expressed the importance of doing personal research because the HR Center has limited resources for in-person HR recruiting and utilizing professional networking for Fridays. Handshake, HireVue, VMock were cited as essential career-building resources during internship preparation.

portrait of Theodore Prime
Theodore Prime

VIP Luncheon

Friday’s VIP Luncheon served delicious food, student-led elevator pitches, and an informal discussion from Management and Human Resource department faculty and other VIPs regarding their research interests, teaching, and career interests. Students were warmly welcomed and shared laughs with Russ Coff, Tanya Hubanks, Jirs Meuris, Ben Burney (Executive Compensation Consultant and current Executive in Residence) and Barry Gerhart. The common thread from these senior and seasoned professionals is that careers are serpentine paths that require persistence, a passion for lifelong learning, and the importance of personal networking.

Additionally, certifications are a marketable credential for budding HR students. Tanya shared her experience working with the SHRM organization at the local, state, and national levels. The pro-tip of the day is that obtaining one’s HR certification is less expensive as a student, and the SHR Center may provide reimbursement support for credential-seeking students. Last year, half of the SHR MBA students obtained their SHRM-CP certifications prior to graduation.

HR Challenges

The afternoon featured alumni Ben Burney (MBA ’08), Sarah Condella (MBA ‘07), and Brad Zemp (MBA ’18) providing us students with the opportunity to problem-solve interesting situations that they have encountered in their work. My fellow students and I attempted to solve the challenges, or at least bring up important issues that would need to be addressed when working toward solutions. These challenges engaged us with the complex world of hands-on HR and energized us for everything we will learn in the next two years.

We continued conversations at the Memorial Union Terrace. I am grateful to have met alumni and faculty members on my first day with the SHR Center. Of course, I was thrilled to spend some time with my classmates and begin to get to know them, because we will be our own most important support network going forward. Overall, I am eager to begin the year and know to relish every moment.