Not For Free

I am a recent graduate of The University of Tennessee with a B.S. in human resource management. Most job openings require at least three years of experience. Because of this, I am considering volunteering my time to get a start in my field. If I do, what would be the best way to find potential employers? Also, what would be a reasonable amount of time to offer my services?
–A.J. Berry, Via the Internet

Don’t be so quick to give away your services for free. Consider applying for an administrative position in HR, where you could expect a salary range in the low to mid 30s. According to Judy Jackson, vice president human resources of Digitas in New York City, it could be an excellent training ground if you choose the right firm. “Brush up on your computer skills and look for a mid-size company [between 300 and 500 employees] where there’s a record of advancement. And then identify someone who could mentor you along,” she advises. “As an assistant you can gain exposure to many aspects of HR, including recruitment and employee relationships.”

In an unstable job environment, trends in the area of human resources show growth, particularly in technology, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics expect opportunities for jobs to increase by 66%. And because HR has evolved from a “people friendly” or soft skills career to one that is more strategic in effecting a company’s bottom line, human resource executives are found in every industry.

Consider active involvement with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM, www.shrm.org) and the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (www .naaahr.org), which is holding a conference October 5 — 8 in San Francisco.

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