First-year students are about a month and a half away from finishing up their initial semester in pursuit of the M-HRIR degree. Currently they're all enrolled in three classes: Business Principles for the HR Professional (professor Avner Ben-Ner), Staffing, Training and Development (professor Theresa Glomb), and Using Data and Metrics in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (professor Colleen Manchester). First-years just finished up two midterms this week, so here's a snapshot of what's going on in each class.
Business Principles: The core tenets of this class -- which overlaps microeconomics with business theory -- are presently revolving around different models of economic competition (perfect vs. monopoly, etc.) The main group project taking place is a series of corporate profiles; there are 14 companies being researched in all, ranging from bar/restaurant chains (Buffalo Wild Wings) to Twin Cities companies (EcoLab) to major e-commerce players (Amazon) to global giants such as Sony and NIKE. So far, the three projects have been (a) a basic study of the history of the organization, (b) a SWOT/value chain analysis, and (c) a breakdown of the corporate governance in place. Students work in teams of four-six to gather the information and organize it effectively, while also underlying and explaining all the essential business concepts. The next assignment actually focuses on the marketing and finance (two core MBA tracks) of the company; this process is a decided advantage of the HRIR program being housed within the Carlson School of Management.
Staffing, Training and Development: Students just finished the staffing/recruiting/legal implications section of the course, and are transitioning to the training and development section. Currently, they're involved in a major two-part staffing simulation project -- the goal is to hire three front desk managers for a luxury hotel chain, and teams of five to six students must make decisions about selection budget, processes, tests and evaluations used, and much more. The simulation (designed by a third party retailer) is effective enough that it can adjust the program on the fly and present business challenges (unexpected ones) to the participants. It's an interesting parallel to the on-campus recruiting processes that are also going on right now -- students are seeing the limitations of reviewing 60+ resumes in a short amount of time, and how decisions end up being made.
Data and Metrics: In this class, students just transitioned from descriptive statistics to inferential statistics; their next large project involves computing z-scores and p-scores to determine statistical significant of certain business data. On November 14, groups from Staffing and Data and Metrics will be combined to work on a live business case from Microsoft; the details of the case aren't 100 percent yet, but it will be taking four hours on the day of and two weeks to create a final report from the results, so it should be an excellent test of business acumen and thinking creatively about a problem in a short amount of time.
Ted Bauer, 1st Year MA-HRIR Student