LSU hosted its first Workforce Development Summer Fellowship Program for online students on May 24. The workshop was a one-day, on-campus event for students who have participated in the LSU online Master of Human Resource Education programs. The Louisiana Board of Regents and the LSU Leadership Development Institute (LDI) sponsored the workshop — the sponsorship involved a stipend for the 15 fellows who attended.
Dr. Tracey Rizzuto, the associate director for the School of Human Resource Education & Workforce Development (SHREWD) and director of the LSU Leadership Development Institute (LDI), organized the event.
“We had 15 fellows that were honored, and they flew in from different parts of the country, most from Louisiana, but we had fellows from North Carolina, Texas, and other places,” she explained. “They were part of a full-day program that was designed to enhance socialization so that fellows would have an opportunity to meet, in person, some of their faculty and fellow students, to discuss aspects of careers in workforce development. Also to do some intrapersonal work around leadership development and what it means to be a leader in the career path of workforce development, and how to identify and develop competencies as leaders within themselves.”
The first part of the day featured two speakers from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Brian Moore is the director of the Office of Workforce Development, and Joseph Hollins is the confidential assistant to the executive director. They spoke about the current state of the Louisiana workforce and some of the challenges and opportunities for the state. Hollins is a recent LSU graduate of SHREWD’s Human Resource Education master’s degree program. He spoke about making a successful transition from school to career in the area of HR and workforce development.
The second part of the day was more hands-on and included a question-and-answer session with Dr. Leslie Blanchard, associate dean at of the LSU College of Agriculture and associate of the LDI.
“Dr. Blanchard worked with the fellows to model leadership competencies that are needed for success in the area workforce development, and conducted self-assessment with each participant to ask ‘Where are my strengths?’ or ‘Where can I improve?’ or ‘What do I need to do to get there?’,” said Dr. Rizzuto.
A North Carolinian’s Experience
Kim Shaw, a student in the online master’s degree program, traveled from North Carolina to attend the workshop. She heard about the program through one of her courses and decided to take a chance and apply for the fellowship.
“It was an opportunity and a one-in-a-million kind of thing. I just took it upon myself, and lo and behold they chose me as a recipient,” she said.
Shaw said she really enjoyed the opportunity to hear from other HR professionals, especially what they had to say about how to get started in workforce development.
“A lot of time we lack the experience in that particular industry, so it’s hard for us to maneuver and find a starting place. There were very different ways of how to go about getting into that sector, and that was really the biggest highlight that I took away from attending the fellowship program.
Just before leaving for the LSU workforce, she accepted a new job with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She’ll now be working in career advising for the state.
“It was ironic that I went to a fellowship program and received a job offer on the same day,” she said.
A Texan’s Take
Toni Moore lives in Houston, Texas and works for Lone Star College in organizational development.
While she’s in Texas now, she’s a native Louisianan. She left Baton Rouge while she was in elementary school but always wanted to become an LSU Tiger — and the online program afforded her that opportunity. The workshop gave her the opportunity to visit her alma mater and network. Moore graduated in December 2015.
“The program provided an opportunity to visit the campus again and personally meet the SHREWD and Leadership Development Institute program directors, faculty and other students. The only other opportunity to meet fellow students is upon completion of the program at graduation, keep in mind, many online students elect not to attend the diploma distribution ceremony. More importantly, the workshop provided social and professional networking, leadership competency skills assessment and development activities,” she said.
Moore also said that she benefited from coupling the workshop with her coursework and work experience.
A Perspective from the French Quarter
Diana Guzman-McMahon lives and works in New Orleans. She’s currently a training manager at a large, family-owned hotel in the French Quarter. She said that the Workforce Commission speakers spoke about larger issues facing Louisiana, but saw that some of those same things are areas of concern in the hospitality industry as well.
“What I hear from my employment manager is that we’re constantly attracting from the same pool of candidates. Eventually we’re going to run out of candidates to pull from,” she explained. “I talked to our vice president here and brainstormed ideas on how we can get more talented candidates. Listening to the workshop itself was right on task of what I’m witnessing here.”
Guzman-McMahon said she also enjoyed meeting some of her professors and fellow classmates through the workshop.
“It was really just nice to hear and speak to other people in the program and talk about some of the same difficulties that we’re all going through in our profession,” she said.
Online Master’s Program in Human Resource Education
This workshop served as a supplement to student education in the area of workforce development and HR leadership. Learners interested in attaining a high quality LSU M.S. in human resource education degree can choose between two online programs with different concentrations: workforce development or human resource and leadership development. Students from both programs participated in the fellowship program at LSU.
The online master’s program in HRE allows students to grow their careers and learn more about critical areas such as those covered in the workshop. Students who gain knowledge and experience in workforce development or leadership can help solve important issues facing their communities.
As Kim Shaw pointed out, “In the end, we’re all working toward a common ground: to build our economy and have a rewarding career at the end of the light.”
Learn more about LSU’s online degree programs.
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