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How an MBA Helps You Switch Into a Human Resources Career

Nov 28, 2022
How a business degree can lead to success in human resources

By Rachael Perrotta

Many students attend business school to pivot their careers. There are a few things to consider when looking to change your career trajectory. Sandy Kinnett, Senior Associate Director and CMC Coach at Vanderbilt Business, explains the ins and outs of HR and how earning an MBA can help professionals switch into a human resources career. 

Sandy Kinnett

1. HR isn’t about liking people.

Contrary to common misconceptions, Kinnett explains that human resources is about problem-solving with a focus on human capital and employee relationships, rather than liking people. She added that Vanderbilt Business equips its MBA candidates to excel in this role. 

“As an MBA entering an internship or full-time role in HR, candidates will be tasked to drive strategic initiatives, lead employees and teams through change, and be a leader that understands how other core areas of business impact the people of an organization,” Kinnett said.

2. HR is as strategic as other corporate fields.

Human resources isn’t a narrow field as many believe it to be. Companies that value their employees integrate their human resources arm as a strategic partner, allowing for stimulating HR work experiences. 

“HR roles at these organizations will require candidates to have the same business acumen, interpersonal skills, and ability to influence and collaborate across all levels of an organization as they would in any other functional areas,” Kinnett said.

Like other business fields, HR employees are often tasked with strategic, highly visible, data-driven projects to address multifaceted business challenges.

“How can you provide employees with the tools, systems, and experiences to further the business? How can you impact the way employees show up to work and connect with the company culture?” Kinnett said. “These are some of the questions Human Resources professionals are solving.”

3. You can build an HR career in almost any industry.

Kinnett describes HR as “dynamic,” referencing how HR career opportunities are available in a wide range of industries and companies for individuals with an MBA. 

“MBA talent in Human Resources is needed in any industry, so I would tell candidates not to limit themselves and to be more cognizant of how HR is valued at the company level,” Kinnett said.

Kinnett explains that Vanderbilt MBA candidates often pursue Human Resources Leadership Development Programs, Human Resources Business Partner roles, and Human Capital Consulting. She added that HR positions in consulting, technology, and financial services have been gaining popularity among Vanderbilt Business students recently. Some students also have more specific HR interests.

“Some candidates have a niche focus on an area under the HR umbrella such as Compensation, Workforce Planning and Analytics, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Kinnett said. 

4. Business school will help you with the job recruitment process.

Business schools have support systems to help you through the human resources recruitment process, which parallels that of other business fields. Vanderbilt Business students have the Career Management Center, the student club Human Organizational Performance Association, and peers to help guide them through the recruitment process.

“Fortunately, at Vanderbilt, there is a lot of infrastructure in place to help students feel like they are positioned for success as they start the process of connecting with employers and interviewing,” Kinnett said.

To learn more about how an MBA can help pivot your career, click here.

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