March 7, 2018
Experiential learning "makes it real" for students
Seneca's HR department partners with faculty
It’s a place where people come for job interviews, training or to learn more about their benefits and retirement plans.
And in an effort to offer an experiential learning opportunity with the School of Leadership and Human Resources, Seneca’s Human Resources (HR) department recently opened its doors to 85 students in the Human Resources Management graduate certificate program.
“They got to see what life is like in HR and what better place to do that than in our own administrative department,” says Alfonsina Chang, Program Co-ordinator of the Human Resources Management and Business Administration – Human Resources programs.
Not only were the visiting students exposed to the different functions in HR — talent acquisition, health and safety, diversity and inclusion, employee accommodation — they also had the chance to sit across the table from Bernie Beaulieu, Associate Vice-President, Human Resources.
And ask him questions.
“We wanted to create an experiential learning opportunity for the students to tour the department and job shadow employees,” Alfonsina says. “Having face time with professionals who do this for a living makes it real for our students.”
For Clarissa Castoro, who had never been to an HR department prior to the visit, the experience enabled her to see how the different functions work together under one big umbrella.
“It’s amazing to see the focus of our studies in action and to realize that we are learning what it takes to be excellent HR professionals,” she says.
In particular, Clarissa says the disability and accommodation portfolio stood out for her.
“The delicate handling of situations in this area helped me realize that I’m in the right field and confirmed my desire to be a part of maintaining a healthy culture in an organization,” she explains.
Classmate Natalia Fedosova, who has worked in the HR field in her home country of Russia, says the experiential learning opportunity was eye-opening for her.
“Some of the functions just don’t exist in my country, so I was extremely curious to identify them,” she says. “As well, the structure differs from what I knew — I had never been to an HR department in the public educational sphere.”
Natalia was also impressed by the chance to network with professionals who she found to be generous and open about sharing their knowledge, expertise and contacts in support of students.
“It was an exceptional opportunity to ask whatever questions we had. It gave us deep understanding of the profession and possible future directions of professional development,” she says. “I believe a chance like this could hardly be obtained in any other circumstances.”
While the experience was aimed at getting the students market-ready upon graduation, Ted Moriarty, Director, Talent Management and Organizational Development, says it was equally beneficial for the department to host the students.
“We don’t get to interact with students on a regular basis and it’s nice to talk to them face-to-face,” he says. “It’s motivational for the staff, too, and it provides us with a chance to scout talent.”
Currently, there are nine alumni working in Seneca’s HR department.
“Most of them are in entry-level positions but they will likely move up to leadership roles in the future,” Ted says. “Seneca grads are some of the best people we have here.”
This experiential learning opportunity was supported by Seneca's Alumni Student Experience Fund.