If the people-side of business is what most appeals to you, then you might already be thinking that human resources would be a great college major for your skills and interests. You can get started getting ready for your human resources degree program long before you graduate college. Preparing for success as a student of human resources begins with choosing a variety of relevant courses in high school, building your leadership skills and networking with HR students and professionals. While you may think that learning more about the field of human resources can wait, it is never too early to begin setting yourself up for success.
Developing an Interdisciplinary Educational Foundation
As a college major, human resources is somewhat interdisciplinary, despite being an important part of a school of business. In addition to focused human resource management coursework, undergraduate HR degree programs often include studies in general business, accounting, psychology, industrial relations and professional writing, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Because your college curriculum will include classes from a breadth of disciplines, it makes sense to take a varied but practical curriculum in high school, as well.
Some of the best high school courses for human resource specialists include classes in computers, psychology, sociology and ethnic and gender studies. Speaking and writing effectively are essential skills for a human resources specialist or manager to master, so taking communications classes in high school is often a good idea to prepare you for college-level work in these subjects. Taking an introduction to business class or other business education courses, if your high school offers them, will help you become familiar with some of the concepts that you will cover further in your core college coursework.
Not every class you take in high school will be relevant to your HR career, but it is still crucial that you do well in these courses. Since you plan to go to college, you should take college preparatory classes even in unrelated coursework. Be sure to keep your grades up.
Bringing Out Your Inner Leader
You enjoy working with people, and you’re good at building a rapport even with people you have just met. Otherwise, you wouldn’t find HR such an appealing career field. However, while having great interpersonal skills is an integral part of being an effective leader, it is far from the only requirement for leadership. You also need to be good at strategic planning, making decisions, skillfully delegating tasks, bringing out the best in your workers and assessing big-picture business performance.
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While learning about the theory of management in college can offer you some insight to become a better leader, one of the best ways to enhance your leadership abilities is through firsthand experience. If you get your first job while in high school, you can help your coworkers solve problems and improve productivity while you work toward earning a promotion to an assistant manager role. Extracurricular activities like sports and clubs are some of the most fun parts of high school. Making time to enjoy these activities can help you build your leadership skills and your resumé, especially if you look for leadership opportunities such as team captain or club president. Any leadership experience is valuable in HR, so pursue whatever extracurricular activities interest you. If you want to start getting involved in the business world during high school, consider joining an organization like DECA or Future Business Leaders of America.
What makes leadership so important? In general, demonstrating leadership abilities makes you a strong candidate for admission to a college as a whole and, particularly, to a business program. You must be a good leader to advance to a human resources manager role.
Making Connections in the Field of Human Resources
The field of human resources is all about making connections. Whether you aspire to be a headhunter for a staffing agency, seeking out and recruiting qualified candidates for job openings, or an in-house HR generalist responsible for training and administration, you need to connect with people. The time when you will be performing these tasks may seem far in the future, and you may not be looking for a professional HR job just yet. However, the connections you make at the start of your career – even as a high school student – could ultimately lead to a job offer for your or an introduction to the candidate who perfectly matches a position you are trying to fill.
As you begin networking, you can benefit from forming different kinds of professional relationships. A human resources student or established HR professional could be a mentor. Building a network of HR professionals can help you find a high school internship.