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Student Recap: Using Your HR Degree to Enhance Your Career – Human Resources Panel

Written by:  Brenda D. Sackerman, Master’s candidate, HRMD Program, 2014

On Friday, September 19, the NYU Wasserman Center at the School of Professional Studies and the NYU SHRM Chapter hosted a panel of NYU alumni who discussed how they used their MS in Human Resource Management & Development to enhance their careers.  The panel consisted of NYU HRMD alumni and students currently working in the HR industry:

Kristen Leising – Managing Director of Talent and Engagement Solutions at Teach for America

Darlene Meier – Director of Human Resources at L’Oreal

Alejandra Olivella – Senior Manager of HR at adMarketplace

Jonathan Serbin – HR Generalist at NYU College of Dentistry

The diverse background and experience of the panelists allowed them to provide excellent insight on how to best leverage your NYU Master’s degree as well as tips for success in the HR field.  Here’s a quick re-cap on the valuable advice they dispensed:

Network, network, network:

Networking is a major key to success.  There are valuable opportunities to build your network constantly around you; don’t overlook the connections you’re making with your classmates.  Additionally, attend as many events as possible and follow through in making connections.  Build genuine relationships and remember to protect your brand and reputation.  Be able to discuss current event, show that you understand business, and get yourself invited into someone else’s world.

Know the basics:

Strengthen your skills in the basic core and administrative aspects of HR, especially if you are near the beginning of your career.  The strategic role that HR plays is extremely important.  However, in order to reach the senior level where strategy alignment is a driving force, most of us will have to move through generalist roles first.  Being well versed in the basics, specifically compensation, benefits and employment law is just as valuable as understanding business strategy.  It is also critical to leverage the skills developed in classes like financial management to discuss figures like ROI and understand valuable metrics and spreadsheets.

Know the business:

HR is the driver of the company culture.  To be successful, you must learn the business, know the industry and establish trust.  Business cannot run without people, but we must be mindful to not be too business or too people focused.  We must build close working relationships through trust and credibility.  A way to build credibility is to apply cost implications for every initiative.  For example, the VP of finance doesn’t want to hear “people are unhappy and unproductive” but would be interested in your ideas to increase revenue.  Another way to learn the business is through rotation programs.  This can increase your marketability and your understanding of the industry.

Diversity is valuable:

Be able to balance who you are, your background and your knowledge.  Be able to leverage your background and find companies who value it as well as recruiters that understand what you can bring to the table.  It is also recommended to take advantage of the Wasserman Center’s assistance in “Perfecting Your Global Brand.”  Diversity is becoming increasingly important as globalization also increases.  Being able to manage inclusion and cultural diversity is a skill that will continue to increase in value.

How to get ahead:

Every day you earn your job but to get a promotion you must go beyond that.  Show that you’ve earned it and that you don’t just expect to be given opportunities.  In addition to networking and looking for opportunities, taking on a new project should help to get you noticed.  Be sure to set a goal and have a business case.  Have an internal mentor as well as an external mentor who will keep you true to your vision.  Have a champion in house that will provide you with support.  Remember, managers execute a plan but directors design the plan.