“The coursework was excellent and touched upon all the major areas of the field, from fundamental HR knowledge and terminology, to various compensation and benefit packages/types, labor laws, etc. The professors/instructors were all subject matter experts, and good resources. I now have an engrained understanding of how to think strategically and critically and how to develop and improve best HR practices.”
Unlike most students in UConn’s Masters in Human Resource Management program, Anna Elise McRuiz enrolled in the program directly after earning her undergraduate degree with no work experience in the HR field. Her advisor, Dr. Diplock, encouraged her to build an internship into her plan of study and become involved in professional HR organizations, including SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and ASTD (American Society for Training & Development).
To gain experience in the field, McRuiz applied for an internship at IBM, and received an internship at IBM’s Global Compensation group. Her time working as an intern served her well. “Their HR summer internship program is extremely well developed with 20-30 HR interns working within different groups in the HR function,” McRuiz says. “Interns would participate in Round Table discussions, involved group projects, and also had responsibilities within their own group. The internship was a lot of work, but a huge door opener.”
After that internship, Dr. Diplock referred McRuiz to a bank looking for a part-time paid HR intern. She worked there for three months and learned a great deal about that organization’s HR processes. Yet it was the contacts she met by networking at local SHRM events that helped McRuiz land her first full-time job in the HR field.
“At a SHRM networking event, I met an employee from a recruitment firm that specializes in executive placement and in Recruitment Process Outsourcing,” she says. “American Express was a recently acquired account of theirs, and he asked for my resume to see if I might be a good fit. I was hired within two weeks, and worked there for nine months. My experience there was invaluable.”
McRuiz met numerous mentors and networking contacts at SHRM events, including an individual who met with her to discuss general HR matters and offered her an opportunity to do some project work for his training/development company. He also introduced her to one of his colleagues, a recruiter specializing in HR placement. That recruiter led McRuiz to her current position as an HR Associate in a trade show company, where she serves as the primary point of contact for employees with general questions about benefits, compensation, payroll, and employee relations.
McRuiz credits her UConn degree, as well as the experience gained in her internships, for getting her foot in the door of the HR field. “Employers look for students who have internship experience on their resumes – and the flexibility of the HRM program at UConn allows younger, less experienced students to work in internships concurrently with their coursework,” she says. “The general understanding of HR subject matter and business acumen that I was able to hone in my internships has proved extremely important in the field. My MPS HRM degree has given me a great competitive edge and will play an instrumental role in my future as I continue to develop my HR career.”