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How should I prepare myself for the Human Resources field ?

I am currently a junior in highschool and I plan to major in industrial/orginzational psychology with a minor in business administration. I want to have a job in the human resources field. Is there any thing I should do or know to prepare myself for that field?

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Nicky’s Answer

If you're interested in pursuing a career in human resources, here are some tips to help you prepare and the courses you should consider taking:

Develop strong communication skills: Human resources professionals need excellent communication skills to effectively interact with employees, managers, and other stakeholders. Take courses in public speaking, writing, and interpersonal communication to enhance these skills.

Gain a solid understanding of business: Human resources is closely tied to the overall functioning of an organization. Take courses in business administration, management, and organizational behavior to understand the broader context in which HR operates.

Study psychology and sociology: Human resources involves understanding human behavior, motivation, and group dynamics. Courses in psychology and sociology will provide you with valuable insights into these areas, helping you better understand and support employees.

Learn about employment law: Familiarize yourself with the legal aspects of HR by taking courses in employment law. Understanding labor regulations, discrimination laws, and workplace policies will be crucial in your future HR role.

Develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills: HR professionals often deal with complex issues and conflicts. Courses in critical thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution will equip you with the skills needed to handle these situations effectively.

Gain practical experience: Look for internships or part-time jobs in HR departments to gain hands-on experience. This will give you a better understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges faced by HR professionals.

Stay updated on industry trends: The field of HR is constantly evolving. Stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and joining professional HR associations.

Remember, while these courses and experiences will provide a strong foundation, developing soft skills like empathy, adaptability, and emotional intelligence is equally important in the HR field. Good luck with your future endeavors!
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Lia’s Answer

Hi there,

I am sure this has come up already, but regardless of the path chosen, know there is no "one path" into HR. The reality is most people accidentally fall into the industry! Education is amazing ( I am working on my 2nd Master's myself) but experience is even better. There are so many ways to get that experience as well. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a ton of great networking and education opportunities both at a local (state/city chapter-level) and national. As a student, you can save a TON of money by signing up as a student member. Nationally, you only pay like $50 a year compared to the $250 professional membership. Take advantage of all the opportunities to save money! Both SHRM and HRCI also offer certifications for HR professionals. HRCI offers one, the APHR, targeted at professionals that want HR work, but may not have the experience These are great tools as well in standing out in the job market while building your confidence.

HR is also a very big field - SHRM's website does a great job in breaking down the different aspects of the HR space. Are you someone that loves data, technology, and how systems work? Focusing on the HR Technology space can be a great area for you. If you are someone that loves getting into the meat and potatoes of HR and dealing with employees, careers within the Employee Relations or Labor Relations would take you far in that aspect. Do you love teaching, inspiring, and educating new and existing team members? A career in Talent Development could be an amazing fit. At the same time, know that whatever area(s) you love, HR also very much has opportunities for generalist roles where you can get a taste of each area and go from there!

Best of luck with your career! I know you will do fantastic.
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Daniel’s Answer

Preparing yourself for a career in the Human Resources field involves a multifaceted approach that goes beyond just hitting the books. While academic knowledge is important, gaining practical experience through a paid internship can be incredibly valuable. Look for internships with HR departments in companies or organizations relevant to your interests. This will give you firsthand exposure to HR processes, such as recruitment, training, and employee relations.

In addition to internships, consider taking elective courses specific to HR within your college curriculum. These courses can provide you with specialized knowledge and skills that are directly applicable to the field. Topics like organizational behavior, employment law, and talent management can give you a solid foundation for your future career.

Beyond academic and internship experiences, networking with HR professionals is crucial. Start building relationships with HR professionals through networking events, career fairs, and informational interviews. These connections can offer valuable insights into the industry, mentorship opportunities, and potentially lead to job opportunities down the line.

By combining academic coursework, practical experience through internships, and networking efforts, you'll be well-prepared to enter the Human Resources field upon graduation.
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Aria’s Answer

Hello there! As a budding HR professional, I highly recommend securing an internship in HR. My journey began as a Human Resources Intern, where I had the opportunity to explore various departments within HR. This experience will guide you in discovering which department resonates with you. HR is a vast field, offering you the chance to uncover what truly captivates your interest.

For instance, HR operations focus more on the technical aspects, like managing systems and handling daily administrative tasks. Alternatively, you could dive into Talent Attraction, which revolves around welcoming new hires into the company. The diversity of roles within HR makes it an incredibly versatile field.

My internship experience was instrumental in helping me pinpoint my preferred direction within HR. So, dive in, explore, and let your HR journey begin!
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Davielle’s Answer

What drives you to have an interest in HR? Is it because you will help people? Today's HR is vastly different from HR in the past. It's role is more about creating self-service help versus interacting with people. HR also protects the company as much as the employee, so there will be times that you cannot help the employee when you feel you should be able. Also, in my 20 years of experience, I can say HR is a department that regularly gets restructured, and is one of the first to have layoffs. Be sure you understand why you want to go into this field and what the landscape looks like. It is great that you are getting outside feedback, because it ensures you understands other points of view!
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Shana’s Answer

Good afternoon,

Taking some business courses will enhance your knowledge during your college career, while taking business courses communicate with your professor or career center to revive some guidance on part-time jobs or internships to gain more experience. Understand that HR is a very vague career field choice, make sure you research the various areas of HR to understand the requirements and which areas you may be interested in.
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Rachelle’s Answer

Hi Arshpreet! There are a lot of good answers here already, so I will just add a few more.

As many have mentioned, HR is incredibly diverse, covering numerous areas such as compensation and benefits, talent acquisition/recruitment, HR Business Partner, learning and development, and so on. This diversity allows it to cater to a range of personality types, preferences, and strengths. It would be beneficial for you to research these many areas, identify the one that resonates with you the most, and strategize your future steps accordingly. For instance, if you find yourself drawn to the more analytical, number-crunching side of HR, you might consider pursuing a degree in finance or economics. However, bear in mind that there's no one-size-fits-all degree for HR. I've witnessed individuals from a vast array of backgrounds carve out successful, long-standing careers in HR.

Securing an HR internship is another exceptional stepping stone towards a career in HR. Furthermore, there's a plethora of HR Certifications available, tailored to your specific area of interest within HR. These include PHR or SPHR for a more general HR career, CCP (Certified Compensation Professional) for compensation, CBP (Certified Benefits Professional) for benefits, and many more. If you ever contemplate furthering your HR studies in graduate school, numerous Fortune 500 companies offer HR development programs that pave the way to leadership roles within the company.

When I earned my economics degree, I was uncertain about my next move, so it's truly inspiring to see your clarity and determination at this stage. You're already a step ahead! Wishing you all the best and loads of luck on your HR journey!
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Melissa’s Answer

Hello there!

If you're curious about building a career in Human Resources, it's a great idea to explore the different specialties within the field. Human Resources is a broad umbrella that covers areas like Talent Acquisition, Compensation, Information Systems, Talent Development, Organizational Development, and Employee Relations, among others. A lot of people often associate HR with Employee Relations. If this is the area that piques your interest, earning a bachelor's degree in HR Management could be a fantastic stepping stone. There are also certifications like the SHRM-CP that many HR professionals pursue to broaden their knowledge and skills in this particular field. Some even opt to earn a Juris Master in Employment Law for a deeper understanding, though it's not a necessity.

Another fascinating area within HR is Organizational Development. Professionals in this field often study Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Keep in mind, though, that this specialty usually requires a Master's degree.

So, my suggestion is to start by exploring the different areas within HR. Find out what sparks your interest and then dive deep into it.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello Arshpreet! I too embarked on the journey of I/O psychology, and I must say, it's a wonderful career choice! Here's a bit of guidance to help you on your path. Start by determining whether the 'I' or the 'O' side of I/O psychology sparks your curiosity more, and then seek out internships in that area. Personally, I found the Organizational Development aspect of I/O psychology to be quite engaging and took up a few internships.

Another fantastic idea is to consider pursuing a master's degree. These programs often come with the added benefit of helping you secure paid internships. To ensure your success, it's crucial to stay updated with the latest trends in HR, such as AI and mobility.

Also, having a mentor can be invaluable. Look for someone who is already in a role that you find intriguing. When I was just starting out, I reached out to people on LinkedIn who were in roles I found interesting, and I was pleasantly surprised by the support and advice I received from these individuals, who were once strangers. Wishing you all the best on your exciting journey!
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Cindy’s Answer

HR is a great field. Make sure you get an internship in field. It will help you get a good understanding of the field. Also, see if you can join any professional HR organizations. Even if you’re a student, they can provide lots of value.
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