MSHRM’s Inaugural Class Making Successful Strides in the Human Resources Field

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On-campus commencement for the MSHRM Class of 2017. Photo: Stella Kalinina

In 2017, USC Bovard College welcomed its inaugural class of students into the online MS in Human Resource Management program.

Students hailed from many different states, and a few countries, with experience across multiple industries and from leading companies such as Microsoft, Target, General Electric and more. While the students boasted diverse backgrounds and professional journeys, some as active duty military or veterans, as parents, or career switchers, they all shared a common goal: build their knowledge and skills as effective HR leaders.

Below, graduates from the inaugural MSHRM class reminisce about the highlights of their Bovard College journey and share their advice for prospective students considering the program.

Why the MSHRM program at USC?

Michelle Gonzales, Senior People Operations Manager at Hook, decided to pursue an MSHRM in order to better handle more senior responsibilities and provide strategic consulting to organizations.

For Alma Mercado, Senior People & Policy Partner at Tapestry, human resources is her passion and she enjoys being “one piece of the puzzle that creates a welcoming culture for employees.”

But how did students choose the MSHRM program at the University of Southern California? Graduates like Andrea Beltran, HR Manager for Nike, always dreamt of attending USC, while Aljelyn Alvarez, HR Operations Manager at Alliance Healthcare Services, is no stranger to the Trojan Family.  Having attended USC for undergrad, she recognized the power of the Trojan network and wanted to expand it through a master’s program.

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MSHRM graduate and banner bearer, Aubrey Rice at the 2018 USC Commencement ceremony. Photo: Stella Kalinina

The Bovard College Experience

Bovard College fosters a student-centered learning environment, and graduates agreed that their professors played a large role in the success of their educational journey. For Mercado, “Each class was unique and the professors are longstanding HR professionals who share real-life experiences.”

Aubrey Rice, Senior HR Consultant at Greater Human Capital echoed that she liked “getting to know professors who are also professionals in the field, because I could look up to them not just [for theory] but as expert practitioners.”

Though Bovard College programs are 100% online, many students build strong bonds with their peers. “The biggest highlight was meeting classmates and creating friendships that have sustained the trial of time. My classmates are now a part of my immediate network – we chat, catch up, help each other with questions and ask for advice,” Mercado adds.

Celebrating Diversity & Overcoming Challenges

Because Bovard College programs are fully online and designed for working professionals, the program attracts students who might not have been able to attend traditional on-ground programs. Students are parents, veterans, full-time employees, first-generation students, and even career switchers, like Rice.

“I came into the program knowing absolutely nothing about human resources, and there were people in my classes who had been in human resources for decades. It was really intimidating. But I learned quickly that my background in teaching also was valuable and gave me a deep perspective that I was able to leverage,” she says. “I also got my first job in HR while I was in the program, so it was awesome to finish my degree while also working full-time in the area I had wanted to use the degree to dive into!”

Career Impact and Advancement

The MSHRM program benefits from an applied curriculum. What students learn in class today, they can apply it to their work tomorrow.

Lorna Figueroa, HR Business Partner at Charles River Laboratories, found that many aspects of the coursework were applicable to her job, but HR Analytics stands out the most. “It’s crucial to influencing leaders to make needed changes in the organization. Utilizing data is truly key and I never forget that since taking that class.”

While the benefits of an MSHRM are plenty, graduates can attest to career advancement upon graduating. “For years I was trying to get from an HR Generalist role to an HR Business Partner role, and was finally able to do that once I got my degree! It’s definitely allowed me to stand out among other people and gain an understanding in HR strategy that I was lacking before,” says Figueroa. “This has helped me approach my job, my leaders and stakeholders, and employees in a whole new way. I’ve built great credibility within my industry and company to help shape how HR is perceived.”                                              

The USC Difference

Students in our inaugural class are now working across various industries, including technology, healthcare, pharmaceutics, and retail. Many used the program to step into larger roles with greater responsibility.

Says Figueroa, “Being equipped with a master’s from USC, and years of experience under my belt, I was able to showcase that I was a better candidate for jobs to get ahead to the next level. It’s definitely helped in terms of [adding] credibility to my resume and professional profile to have that stamped pedigree.”

Insight for Prospective Students

As a master’s student at USC Bovard College, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to be successful, but it’s up to you to make the most out of the experience.

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MSHRM students at the 2018 USC Commencement ceremony. Photo: Stella Kalinina

“Soak up as much as you can,” says Rice. “Take the opportunity to get to know your professors, attend classes, and read the materials. I would not be where I am now without the connections I made with the professors and my fellow students, and that was through my consistent engagement with the material and the program. The relationships you develop in graduate school are invaluable and will continue to be fruitful in ways you cannot imagine. Cultivate them.”

Learn more about USC’s MS in Human Resource Management program.

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