With a desire to stay close to home and a commitment to the public sector, Dhillon School of Business alumna, Julie Henderson (BMgt '17) found her perfect niche. Armed with a major in human resources and labor relations (HRLR), Julie embarked on her post-graduate journey right here at the University of Lethbridge as a human resources (HR) services coordinator. Julie's story is a testament to seizing opportunities in challenging circumstances. She recounted her personal journey to prospective students during a previous Open House, and here is what she had to say.

Why did you choose Dhillon?

[The really good thing about] Dhillon is the way the programs are set up. You start out very general, and with the general liberal arts requirements, you’re trying a lot of different courses. In my first semester, my major was exercise science and I ended up in HR. I love how I was able to switch over to something I felt suited me better, I think the way that's set up is really important. I was [also] able to try a lot of things and I loved being part of the co-op program. The resume writing, the mock interviews, learning how to search for jobs was really valuable. 

What do you enjoy most about HR?

What I like most about HR is that it feels like a puzzle you need to solve. With the human component, it can be a really challenging puzzle because everyone has their own uniqueness that they bring to the table and you need to navigate that. No two situations are ever really the same.

Tell us about your experience with co-operative education.

In the last couple years of my degree, I worked as an intern in the volunteer resources department for Alberta Health Services (AHS). Finding an entry level job in the industry proved to be difficult, so I was looking for other ways to break in. I found this internship with volunteer resources to be similar to an HR department. It was a good way to break in and get to know the industry and also make sure it was still a good fit and something I enjoy doing. I was onboarding, recruiting and training volunteers to help in the healthcare industry, it was just a really good introduction to the world of HR.

Tell us about your role with ULethbridge's HR department.

As HR services coordinator, my focus is on recruiting and the onboarding of new academic staff. I work with hiring managers to classify jobs, what is this going to look like? What are the duties? What would be the pay scale for that? How will all of that work? I work with managers to create job postings to attract talent and offer jobs to the right candidate, then once they’re hired on, we make sure they’re set up to succeed and hit the ground running.

I get to work with some very smart people all across campus to help make the organization better. I think that’s what I really enjoy about working in HR, you can be drivers for organizational change. People and culture are so key to an organization and can really help move the organization forward. Through strategic hiring, professional development, wellness initiative, through data collection and exit interviews, you can identify those issues and then you can create a plan to improve the workforce.

What did you learn through your degree that helped you at work?

I learned more about working with people who are different than me through group projects or presentations. Sometimes it goes great and sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge. Either way you get to learn how to work with people. That follows through into the workforce where you’re not going to always be best friends with your colleagues. If you can understand the personality, understand the motivations, then it’s a lot easier to work together to reach that common goal.

I also found how to effectively communicate my ideas. I may not remember every presentation or research paper I wrote, but I did learn how to effectively compile my thoughts and how to communicate those effectively in order to reach that goal.

What advice would you give those starting their journey at ULethbridge?

There isn’t a right way to complete your degree. I know a lot of people that were really involved in extracurriculars, clubs and case competitions and that’s really valuable. In my degree, I focused on my coursework and I focused on working my full-time job while completing my studies. I would say try to be open, see what all is out there. Give them a try, see what’s a good fit for your schedule and future goals.

The Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge is known for its immersive experiential learning opportunities, connecting learners with industry, its supportive, personalized approach and for exposing students to emerging technology. Study options are available in both Lethbridge and Calgary.

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