SHRM Foundation Annual Conference Scholarship Winner Markus Smith

The SHRM Foundation is proud to present scholarships to students and SHRM members who are pursuing academic and professional development opportunities in the HR field. This year, the SHRM Foundation is awarding five SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition scholarships to individuals from across the U.S.

In 2017, University of Washington (UW) student Markus Smith was the recipient of the Northwest Human Resource Management Association (NHRMA) Student Scholarship and attended SHRM17. His story is the first in a series of SHRM Foundation spotlights that will appear on the SHRM Blog in the weeks leading up to annual conference in Chicago. Check back to learn more about this year’s conference scholarship winners, and follow them and other HR ambassadors on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at SHRM18.

Markus said he discovered HR while searching for jobs during community college.

“I am extremely happy to have found HR. During community college, I dealt with several recruiting agencies and began to grow fond of the process of finding employment, completing applications, researching companies and interviewing,” he said. “I realized that although I cannot job hunt for a living, I can connect candidates to employment opportunities as a recruiter. I was amazed to realize that recruiting and coaching fall under the banner of HR.”

After transferring to UW, he landed an HR internship with the City of Seattle where he conducted orientation for new employees, among other responsibilities. Meanwhile at UW, he chartered the branch’s first SHRM student chapter and later became its president.

 “As a student with limited experience, some of the seminars went over my head. Now that I am in the profession, I am recalling the information I received and it's starting to make sense and come full circle,” he said. “I believe that this scholarship would be beneficial to any student at any stage in their career because the knowledge and networking opportunities are endless.”

Markus graduated from UW this past June and is now a recruiter at a Seattle-area biotechnology firm. He says the annual conference gave him an opportunity to network, learn about the latest trends in HR and helped prepare him for his new role.

Now that he’s working full time, Markus is eager to forge ahead and meet career milestones, such as earning a SHRM-CP.

“This has been a tough fight, but I will be the first one to graduate college in my family. These obstacles have matured me and increased my focus so that I am extremely goal oriented and forward thinking,” he said. “Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to attend the conference. I am eager to learn and utilize this opportunity to better myself and those around me both personally and professionally.

The SHRM Foundation’s work is only possible because of gifts from individuals. Help transform the lives of future HR leaders—like Markus—by donating to the SHRM Foundation at For more information about scholarship funding for certifications, undergraduate and graduate education, visit Donate today!


Markus (middle) and other annual conference scholarship winners at SHRM17 in New Orleans

Markus presents at Washington State SHRM’s Employment Law & Human Resource Conference in Seattle on April 20, 2018.

Markus emcees at the 2018 NHRMA Student Conference in early April.



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