MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The president of the award-winning Society for Human Resource Management has set the standard for greater success for those who will follow her in Fall 2022.
Kaitlyn Berry, a master’s degree candidate in psychology who is looking forward to an Aug. 5 graduation, said the student organization she has led at MTSU is all about nurturing students who aspire to careers in human resources.
“Our goal is to really advance the human resource profession by starting at that foundational level with the future HR professionals and people that are making up the business world,” Berry said.
Part of that work is to create presentations relevant to the profession that win awards at conferences judged by academics and professionals.
“Honestly, we have too many to be able to display them all, which is a lovely problem to have,” said Patrick McCarthy, a professor of psychology and director of the industrial/organizational psychology master’s degree program.
In August 2021 at the Tennessee Student Human Resources Management Conference and Expo in Nashville, MTSU placed first in the case competition with “A Proposition for the Culture of Inequality: Garrison’s Grocery Outlet.” In addition to Berry, the team included Holli Salley, a master’s degree candidate in psychology, and Anna White, vice president of SHRM.
McCarthy said engaging students in research projects helps further the discipline of industrial/organizational psychology, which he called “the people side of running an organization.”
“We spend almost a third of our lives, if not more for some individuals, at work at some point,” McCarthy said. “I think a lot of people tend to forget how much of an impact that can have on all the other areas of your life.”
Berry and White delivered presentations at the River City Industrial/Organizational Conference in Chattanooga in October 2021. Berry’s research was titled “Nissan Motor Corporation: Talent acquisition from a new perspective.” White’s work was titled “Ardent Health Services organizational development team internship experience.”
Tomi Phillips, Pershang Tovi and Sarah Tucker, three alumni of MTSU’s SHRM, delivered a presentation on “Appraisal tendency framework: emotions and perceptions of fairness” in April 2022 at the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology Conference in Seattle, Washington.
However, the SHRM members do not wait for conferences to enhance their knowledge. Berry said two of the officers are designated “breakfast series coordinators,” who schedule breakfast events that connect students with practitioners.
“Those allow for networking with local area professionals,” Berry said. “We have a key professional come and give a speech or a small talk on a certain topic that’s relevant to human resources.”
SHRM members also conduct food drives for the Student Food Pantry and volunteer their services to Murfreesboro’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony.
Berry said the possibilities for careers are endless and include specialists on diversity and inclusion, organizational development and hiring procedures. Some companies even have a “chief happiness officer.”
And how do HR people convince managers and executives who believe that a “command-and-control” management style is the best way to run a business that there are better ways to create a workplace culture?
“A lot of people with that mindset are kind of prioritizing money over people, but, realistically, when you put people first, the money will follow,” Berry said.