By Ryan Velez
Many of us go through our careers without really thinking about our HR departments, for better or for worse. They help you get settled when you start a job, and if you have an issue, you will generally let them know to get the ball rolling towards a resolution. But having skilled HR professionals is essential for any company looking to function smoothly, and this role may be just what you need to launch a career. RollingOut recently interviewed HR professional Antoine L. Lee about the nature of this career and what drove him to pursue it.
When asked what made him choose HR, Lee explained that it was the combination of helping people and working in a professional environment. “I actually stumbled upon the field of human resources when seeking an internship to fulfill a requirement for a class that I was taking in undergrad. A steel manufacturer in Kentucky partnered with the university that I was attending to offer a student an opportunity to work for them as an HR generalist for the fall semester. By happenstance, the HR manager retired during my internship and the job was offered to me because of my job performance and demonstrated ability to adapt to both the culture and role in a relatively short period of time.”
Some may believe that HR is just there to enforce compliance, but as we mentioned before, the job position has several different functions that are essential to their company. “Within my role as an HR generalist, I touched every aspect of that lifecycle to include recruiting, benefits administration, training & development, employee relations, payroll, etc,” Lee explained. Working as a consultant for 10 years allowed him to pick areas to specialize in, which for him included employee relations and training & development work.
Sound appealing? If you want to get your start in HR, Lee recommends getting the ball rolling as soon as possible, preferably by getting an internship. “The reason being that it’s a difficult field to enter if you don’t have any experience and rightfully so. Employers need to be assured and confident that you have experience dealing with and mitigating HR-related matters. It’s not an occupation that allows for a great deal of trial and error. One mistake could result in a lawsuit for the employer and in some cases the HR professional.” HR may have some high stakes, but excelling in that type of role means that you will be in demand in any field across the country—something many people getting ready to enter the workforce many want to think about.