Ashford University Society for Human Resource Management Spotlight

Ashford University Society for Human Resource Management Club Spotlight

Founded by Ashford University’s Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) and Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management (BAHRM) Program Chair, Dr. Katie Thiry, the Ashford University Forbes School of Business & Technology SHRM Chapter is affiliated with the globally recognized Society for Human Resource Management – long considered the gold standard among HR organizations – and allows students to interact with professionals, attend industry networking events and live webinars, and establish themselves among a growing community of like-minded colleagues in the SHRM chapter’s LinkedIn group. It is open to all students, alumni, faculty, and staff with an interest in human resources. The only requirement is an affiliation with Ashford University.

We asked Dr. Thiry and several chapter officers to talk about their involvement, how it’s changed their perspective of human resources, and what every student can learn by participating in the group. Here are a few highlights from the interview.

Ashford: What are the biggest benefits for students who join the SHRM chapter?

Dr. Katie Thiry: I may have underestimated just how fantastic this chapter would be for developing students HR skills. When we started, I asked our founding students officers: president, vice president, and secretary what they wanted to get out of their involvement in the chapter, and they said they were interested in gaining practical HR experience. I thought, ‘How am I going to provide individuals leading a virtual student organization - instead of an HR department - with meaningful work experience that will translate to a current or future job in HR?’ With their goals in mind, our student officers are responsible for the entire succession planning process: drafting job postings, recruiting, screening and interviewing applicants, and training new officers. They lead the entire onboarding process. The other benefit is LinkedIn. It is the perfect platform to get students networking, learning, and gaining knowledge outside of the classroom.. Students can learn from multiple perspectives: from that of a manager or leader in business,  a professional with a formal HR title, from individuals who work in a large organization that requires specialized HR practitioners, and in small companies with a one-person HR department requiring knowledge in multiple areas.

Ashford: How did human resources become a growth industry and a popular career path for students?

Dr. Katie Thiry: The field is as broad as business, and we recognize that the functions of HR don’t live in one department. For the Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management and the Master of Human Resource Management, we view HR as it is: a function of management and leadership. Creating vision for a department or organization, aligning business functions, knowing the skills and competencies needed for a job, conducting performance reviews, hiring, training – these are the responsibilities of someone who leads and manages people. 

Kayla O’Leary, SHRM 2019 Chapter President: It’s a great way to connect with others. It is diverse, and there is room for continuous learning and improvement. 

Chris Clements, SHRM 2019 Chapter Secretary: HR provides a way for people to critically think and solve problems daily. I believe human resources has become such a growth industry simply because organizations have found that the human asset is the most important aspect of the business.

Gerri Wilson, Founding Vice President and BAHRM Associate Faculty Member: HR is important for recruitment, retaining of employees, training and development, as well as adhering to the many employment and labor laws. As a result, HR is a major contributor to an organization and opens more career opportunities to students.

Ashford: Is there a personality trait that would make someone perfect for human resources?

Dr. Katie Thiry: No. We traditionally think, ‘You’re good with people. You should work in HR!’ and while that part is true – there’s definitely a place for the soft skills – even introverts can be successful in HR. We often overlook roles that are related to HR analytics, payroll, management of human resources, information systems, administration of benefits, etc.

Ashford: What’s been the biggest takeaway for you?

Chris Clements: It’s the pure experience I get interacting with HR professionals as a student officer. I’m exposed to different mindsets and knowledge, which helps me understand the field even more. 

Kayla O’Leary: I have gained so much knowledge from fellow officers and faculty, and now I’m able to test that in class. I have gained friendships, mentoring skills, leadership skills, time management skills, and an opportunity to network with many HR professionals from all over the country.

Dr. Katie Thiry: Ultimately, my goal is to prepare students for their careers so they can be successful, top contributors. I think of our HRM degree programs going hand-in-hand with the SHRM chapter. We prepare students through the curriculum, but we don’t set limits on where learning takes place. 

Ready to Join? 

Student officer positions are voluntary and widely available. What’s more, Thiry says that if a student is interested in participating and there isn’t an officer position available, the club will create one. You can learn more about the application process and see a list of SHRM events, testimonials, and more at the Ashford University Forbes School of Business & Technology SHRM Chapter’s website

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Written by Ashford University staff

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