High School student wanting to go into HR
(Received this question anonymously)
My daughter is a junior in high school and really wants to go into HR, however, I have been told by a couple of current HR folks who are in the daily grind that they don't think it's a good idea for her to major in HR because HR as we know it is going to be nonexistent in a few years.
What would your advice be to a current high school student wanting to go into HR? Should they major in HR or should they major in business administration and try to get an internship in HR?
I appreciate your insight on this.
As long as there are people, there will be shades of HR as we know it in the workplace IMHO. That being said I think the answer depends on what this young lady loves to do given that "HR" has many facets. What is attracting her to the field in general? My bachelors degree is in English and Political Science and I'm more interested in the Organizational Development aspects than payroll and benefits. Each of these requires both a base skill set and then specialty skills sets. Bottom line is if she could find a mentor and talk through this - she would probably get some great insight. It's best to start with WHAT DO I LOVE TO DO and build a career around that.
An HR degree strikes me as huge waste of time and money (I blame the for-profit Univ of Phoenixs of the world for mass producing HR degrees). I can't recall a single person I've ever worked with in HR having a Bachelors in HR. Better bets would be Finance, Industrial Organization, General Business, Industrial Psychology, or Law. Most HR-degrees I've encountered are at Masters or PhD levels with Organizational Development having the most programs and typically after you've got five years under the belt. Recruiting might be the easiest path to "get into" HR, but a good recruiter is much closer to Marketing or Sales than HR. If you're serious about getting into HR, you need to know someone on the inside just to get the interview.
HR may be going away to some extent, in some companies, but many HR functions are not. An HR degree is not worthless, but it is not necessary for a job in HR. I would suggest a general business/finance degree. If upon graduation HR is still of interest I would try to find an entry-level HR job. Use the first few years to meet the requirements to sit for the PHR. Once you get the certificate, the degree is glossed over and you will have many more opportunities.
I have a Bachelor's Degree in HR, but I don't know that it was held in any higher regard in my employment opportunities than a general business degree would have been. I would definitely suggest at least a Business degree, and depending on what type of work you'd like to do after college (decide this in college, don't put that pressure on yourself in high school!), include coursework in technology, global issues, and maybe public administration. At least one business law class is a must in my opinion. Also, attend some information sessions offered by your local Department of Labor office, to find out more about what is involved in working in HR (recruiting, resume building, employment law, etc). They offer a WIDE variety of seminars, they are open to the public and FREE!
After accidentally falling into an HR position with my BSBA degree, I found I couldn't get back in the door with any HR opportunities after I relocated until I went back and got a Master's in Labor and Human Resources. If that's truly the field she wants to pursue, I would recommend at minimum an HR concentration or minor within a business degree at the Bachelor's level. With the levels of added complexity and employment law regulations, who on earth thinks HR is going away :)