Students build professional networks through new HR management chapter

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — From benefits to parental child care leave to equality in the workplace, the world of human resource management is complicated. 

The world’s largest organization that addresses these complex issues is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Now business students at Penn State Harrisburg have the opportunity to be a part of SHRM through the new student chapter on campus.

Associate Professor of Management Raymond F. Gibney Jr. said SHRM’s focus on human resources is pivotal to the critical workforce issues that affect the way society works together.

“We are very fortunate here at Penn State Harrisburg to have a student chapter,” Gibney said.

The new student chapter was started in February 2019, with the official induction ceremony held this past spring semester. The initial chartering included eight members, with McKala Dressler sworn in as president and Amber Long as vice president.

Both students reported that becoming SHRM members and officers represented a great benefit to them because they are planning to enter the field of human resource management after graduating.

“There are many benefits,” said Gibney. “The student membership in SHRM provides additional access to updated information regarding human resources policy, legislation and regulations. For example, SHRM recently released a white paper on hiring in the time of legalized marijuana.”

SHRM also recently offered its free Veterans at Work certificate program to students. Long and Steven Ashbaugh, both of whom graduated in May, completed the program. 

The standards for having a SHRM chapter on campus are rigorous. Association with SHRM requires a review of degree program requirements, review of course descriptions and syllabi of required and elective courses in human resources, assessment of how personal human resources competencies are taught, what business or policy application results from learning the human resources topic, and reviewing the accrediting credentials of the university.  

Membership in SHRM also provides access to its directory of professionals, which can benefit graduating students as they seek employment and gain vital networking contacts with those already in human resource positions.

Support from local business executives has proven to be an important part of the success of the new SHRM chapter. Among those Gibney credits are human resources executives, such as Jane Leipold, former vice president of human resources at TE Connectivity and a Penn State Harrisburg alumna.

“The biggest reason for this chapter is our students,” said Gibney. “There has been a long history of very enthusiastic students who have worked tirelessly to make these dreams come true for many. This has been a decade in the making.”

Penn State Harrisburg’s management major has had a concentration in human resource management since 2007. Many students who have completed the concentration have gone on to be human resources professionals and obtain certification in HR, Gibney said.