KOKOMO, Ind. — No matter how long a person works in a career field, there are always new skills to learn.
Future human resources professionals from the Indiana University Kokomo School of Business want to provide professional development programs for area organizations, to help them grow their employees — while gaining real-world experience in their chosen field.
Six members of the Human Resources Student Association (HRSA) recently led their first professional development session at Kokomo High School, for students in Bona Vista’s pre-employment transition services program.
Gabby VanAlstine, lecturer in business, said the program benefits not only the people participating in it, but also the students who lead it. She noted that because its offered as part of a student organization, those participating are doing the service as volunteers.
“In any human resources job, there’s a training and development component that is a potential specialty area,” she said. “This gives them the opportunity to create, design, and implement a workshop for job-related training, while also serving their community.”
The IU Kokomo students focused their first training session on communication and conflict resolution, skills they say benefit the Bona Vista students no matter what careers they choose.
“We talked to all of them about the importance of active listening and effective communication, inside and outside of work,” said Nicole Purcell, a student in the Master of Public Management (M.P.M.) program. “We tried to relate it not only to the workplace, but to their peers, and how these skills can help strengthen friendships and relationships.”
They also planned hands-on activities, to make the training session more interesting than just listening to a lecture.
Sophomore Emily Robbins said doing research to prepare for her presentation gave her a better understanding of the material, which will benefit her when she works in human resources.
“I had all these ideas jumbled up in my head, and as I put them down on paper and organized them and prepared the best way to teach them to someone else, it helped me process the information, too,” she said.
Purcell said the skills they taught the students are important since they generally are not learned on the job.
“A lot of organizations could use this kind of training,” she said. “Most people think it’s a given that you will know these things, but I’ve never had a job where they said, ‘Here is the standard for how we want everyone to talk to each other, or to handle conflict.’ I think it’s a good idea.”
While their first training session was for high school students, the group’s goal is to provide professional development for area businesses and organizations. They’ve applied for grant funding to offer training, materials, and assessments free or at low cost.
“It will be a really great partnership with the community, while helping students gain the skills they need for the careers they want,” said VanAlstine. “It’s a way we can benefit an organization that might not have funding for professional development, or those who want to partner with us to benefit our students.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.