ARSHRM - Arkansas SHRM State Council

Promoting and Serving
the Human Resource Profession in Arkansas

SHRM -  Society for Human Resources Professionals

Transitions by Michele Burns, SPHR

Categories: General


Those of us who work in the field of Human Resources are used to change as we work in an ever changing landscape of economic, regulatory, and organizational fluidity. We also personally face our own changes in life. I am going through such a time in my life right now that is very full of change. Much of this change has been very strategically planned on my part. For instance, during the last several years the focus of my life has been on my teen age son as I helped prepare him for life after high school. Like most parents, I wanted to give my son opportunities that I did not have growing up. Another change I have made is to transition to working for Higher Education Institution – a setting in which I have wanted to work in for some time now. These changes have made me think about transitions . . . specifically the transition from high school to college to beyond.

When I graduated high school, I did not strategically select a college or university or even a field to go in to. I stuck with what I knew and let things fall into place as they did. Since I participated in music and did well with music during high school, I became a vocal music education major in college. I had made All State Choir in high school so to me this just made sense. I never thought about what teaching music would actually be like. And I think I am not alone as statistics indicate that many college students change their major during their college career.

I believe as Human Resources Professionals we have a vested interest in helping prepare high school and college students for their future work life. For me personally, as a mom, this meant helping my son take advantage of Advanced Placement courses and Clep tests in order to cut down what is normally a five year degree (yes, he has decided to major in music education also) to a four year degree. This also meant visiting very many colleges and universities and singing for very many voice teachers to find the best fit for him.

I see so many parallels in the process I took with my son to prepare him for college and the processes organizations benefit from completing when hiring and onboarding a new employee. We should diligently work to find the best fit for our positions. Organizations benefit by investing and preparing new employees to be successful in an organization. And many organizations realize the benefits of reaching out to the community and investing to help develop potential employees even before they become part of an organization’s workforce.

However, I wonder how well we do as Human Resources Professionals at preparing the younger generation to enter our field. I have heard it joked about a number of times regarding people “falling into” the field of HR. While it is true that many of us have found our way into this field and then later work to obtain a graduate degree and/or certification in Human Resources, I believe we have somewhat overlooked reaching out to the younger generation to encourage them to consider Human Resources as a field and this is one area that I would like to see a change in – a transition.

The ARSHRM State Council does have a Core Leadership Area that focuses on College Relations; however, I would like to encourage all Human Resources Professionals and chapters to focus on marketing our field to high school students. As a state council we would like to see continued growth in student chapters and those preparing for a career in HR. However, to do this we need to make sure that high school students know what we do. We may find that our field is not a fit for a number of people; however, we have the background and resources to help push these individuals toward the right field and who knows, they might, as a result, become a successful member of the organization we work for one day!


Michele Burns is the Director-Elect for Arkansas SHRM, and is a Compensation Analyst with the University of Arkansas. Michele has been a long time volunteer in the SHRM structure, and is now learning to adapt to a quiet home.

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