by Heidi Zundel
As Kelly Andrews began his freshmen year at BYU, he participated in activities offered by the Society of Human Resource Management’s student OBHR chapter. But after noticing only a handful of people in attendance at each meeting, Andrews was determined to make a change.
Andrew’s resolve led to a re-evaluation of the chapter’s objectives as well as a campaign to spread awareness. Now SHRM has hundreds of members and OBHR applicants have more than doubled in number.
“I had this vision that people would be a lot more interested if they knew what SHRM was,” Andrews says. “I sensed that nobody understood what the profession was like.”
After being named chapter president in summer 2015, Andrews and his fellow club leaders began a new initiative to highlight SHRM, which provides resources for students to have a hands-on introduction into the type of careers OBHR offers. Andrews carried out this vision by taking a different approach to raise awareness.
“We advertised it in a different way,” Andrews says. “We didn’t even have food as an incentive; rather, we wanted the information to get out for people to truly understand what OBHR was.”
Their incentive worked when, in September of last year, Andrews and other SHRM leaders were shocked and excited to see 115 students at the fall semester opening social. The enthusiasm built throughout the school year as Andrews and his team brought in professionals to help students understand OBHR, held weekly events, created an informational video, and handed out 500 T-shirts bearing the words “We are the business of people.”
But SHRM does much more than make T-shirts. “SHRM provides info sessions, job shadows, practice interviews, recruiting fairs, and much more,” says Naoto Suzuki, current SHRM president. “We work with the faculty, deans, alumni, and HR professionals who come speak with the students about what OBHR really is.”
As of June 2016, SHRM has grown to around 200 members, but the benefits for the program go far beyond membership numbers. Within the last year, the OBHR applicant pool has more than doubled. Last year, 149 students applied for the forty slots in the program, compared to seventy applicants the year before. Also, more than 53 percent of the applicants had a GPA of 3.8 or higher and more refined resumes with HR experience.
“We like students with more experience, such as shadowing or internships, who have put time into scoping out what the career is going to look like,” says Gibb Dyer, organizational leadership and strategy department professor. “SHRM helps orient them on what the field is about and makes them aware of internships and networking opportunities. Our data shows that students who are active in SHRM get more experience that leads to better job opportunities.”
The chapter continues to assist students today, helping OBHR majors gain early experience that has led to interviews with Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and more.
“SHRM is better than it’s ever been,” Suzuki says. “We want people to get a good education and a good job. That’s what we’re dedicated to.”
Originally posted on The Exchange blog.
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