Are You a People Person? Try Human Resources.
By Carine Karam
Happy employees make good employees. And more companies are clueing in to that simple fact every day. Now an increasing number of university students are choosing the “people pleasing” field of human resources to fill the demand.
Krista Balenko is one of those students. She says she’s always been a people person, and now her double concentration in OB-HR (Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources) and Industrial Relations will turn Krista’s interests into career skills.
“I’m a good communicator. I’m always the one listening to my friends when they have a problem or if they need to talk. I like to help them out.”
Before enrolling at McGill University, Krista studied social sciences with a commerce option at Champlain Lennoxville College, where she was an active participant in sports teams and clubs. And in keeping with her ability to work well in groups and excel in leadership, she often found herself elected to be team captain.
Now in her second year at university, 20-year-old Krista intends to pursue a career as a consultant in human resources when she graduates next year. Although it’s a small field, specializing in HR can lead to a number of jobs ranging from HR management in large firms to industrial consulting to career counselling and general management.
She is currently working at Bell Canada in the employee services department. There, Krista is learning firsthand about the HR strategies and solutions that will help benefit a company’s bottom line.
“It’s important to attract and motivate the best people in business, but the true competitive advantage lies in retaining them. You learn to be very analytical to find better ways to achieve the company’s goals and find smoother processes of doing things.”
While at school, Krista usually examines HR case studies, but students in her discipline also participate in field assignments. They go out to observe the various kinds of workers employed at different companies, or perhaps, interview a company’s HR manager.
“We look at things like career development, what pushes people, what employees look for in a job, how to develop high performing work teams, job security, etc. Anything that can help a company run its workforce smoother.”
Krista has no doubts about the significance of studying HR for better business management, so it’s no wonder that her only complaint about the field is the lack of respect it receives from other commerce students.
“It’s considered the soft part of management. But I don’t agree because without knowing how to manage your people, you can’t run an organization.”
But at McGill, the human resource field demands some respect from even the most hard-core commerce student. All their commerce students must step up to the HR plate and take at least one core course in human resources management to graduate, according to Suzanne Gagnon, a teacher of Human Resource Management at McGill University.
“At the end of the day it’s the people who have the knowledge,” asserts Gagnon, “so it’s important that all managers learn HR to understand and respect human motivation.”