First, tell me how you decided to study human resources.
I graduated from the University of Mary, Bismarck, North Dakota in May 1997. My undergraduate degree is in social and behavioral sciences. I decided to pursue a human resources degree when the company I used to work for started demonstrating poor HR practices. With a bachelor s degree, I could only go so far, and it wasn't HR specific.
Why distance learning?
How did you decide which school to attend?
I subscribe to Training magazine and found an ad in the magazine for Ottawa University of Kansas City. The school is located in Overland Park, Kansas. When I contacted the school s graduate adviser I was very pleased with the personal way I was treated. The school looks at your resume and you must be at least somewhat active in an HR field.
Tell me about the program.
At Ottawa, all students are required to attend an intensive four-day weekend. A student attends classes from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon, and gets 32 hours of classroom time in before heading home. Then, the rest of the course is completed online. The school encourages students to interact by doing small-group activities during this time. I created a chat room on my personal Web site for anyone to use during the course.
So everything else, like tests, is done online?
Have you had any problems accessing the Internet?
Would you recommend this method of schooling?
Is the lack of human contact a problem?
Is this really a profession for online learning? Isn t HR about people?
Actually, by the time a student becomes an HR graduate student, much of the role-playing and other interpersonal stuff isn t applicable. The lessons deal with hiring, budgeting, strategic planning and more analysis. The core courses include planning training, research and organizational behavior. It is a higher level than undergraduate courses and involves a lot of critical thinking and application of theories and laws.
What are your career goals?
To move into HR management, possibly specializing in organizational development or training. I ve had a work setback and hope it doesn t hurt my chances for a good position.
Is this the future of HR education?
I m not sure. I believe people who live in more remote areas will gradually use this medium more to further their education. The intensive weekends make a difference with this one. Other schools don t require any residency.
What s the most important thing you ve learned from your experiences in HR?
Mentor other HR students. Get involved in making sure your organization knows to come to you for the answers to employment questions. Don t let them get away with treating employees poorly or abusing employees trust and faith. Learn everything you can about changes in HR.
Workforce Extra, May 1999, p. 6.