UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For members of the student chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management/Society of Labor and Employment Relations (SHRM/SLER) club at Penn State, the opportunities to learn more about the fields of human resources and employment relations are endless. Human resources covers a broad spectrum and if you want to learn more, you do not need to be in the labor and human resources major to join the club.
SHRM/SLER represents the merger of two longstanding professional development clubs. The president of Penn State’s chapter is Mary Enger, a senior majoring in labor and employment relations (LER) from Royersford, Pennsylvania. She has a minor in dispute management and resolution, which is also offered through the School of Labor and Employment Relations in the College of the Liberal Arts.
Enger said she came to Penn State unsure of what she wanted to study, but after taking LER 100, she found a passion that she could turn into a career. “I liked the practicality of the major and the business applications. I also really enjoy problem-solving and working with people,” said Enger.
The club’s vice president is Alexandra Luongo, a senior LER major from Long Island, New York. Luongo is part of the school’s integrated undergraduate-graduate program and is also pursuing a master’s degree in human resources and employment relations.
Luongo came to Penn State to pursue her interest in fencing and is a member of the Penn State Fencing Team. She started out as a psychology major with a focus on business and also noted that her experience in LER 100 drew her to the major. “I took the course as a prerequisite, but it clicked. I knew this is what I want to do,” she said.
SHRM/SLER meets monthly and features guest speakers from different HR backgrounds. Due to the pandemic, the club has been meeting virtually and will continue to do so in the spring 2021 semester.
The club’s advisor is Rebecca Cianci, Assistant Dean for Administration at the Smeal College of Business. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of LER and an HR practitioner with more than 20 years of experience. “I have been involved with this student organization for the past several years and believe it to be extremely beneficial to those students who participate. They’re able to meet and hear from guest speakers that are local to the area, alumni of the program, and/or experts in their field. The array of speakers is diverse, engaging, and interesting,” said Cianci.
Enger said the guest speakers who present to the club discuss their jobs, answer questions and share information about internship opportunities. The club also welcomes alumni back to speak and actively cultivates a strong network to support members in finding internships and even jobs.
Both Enger and Luongo say they have benefited from their membership in SHRM/SLER. Luongo found an internship with Textron after other club members discussed their experiences with the same program. Enger said her relationship with her liberal arts mentor, a former SHRM/SLER president herself, has been an invaluable asset.
Luongo has been able to share her own experiences with the school’s integrated undergraduate-graduate program with the club. As a result, she had members following up after the presentation for more information. “It’s cool being able to help my fellow students and share my knowledge and experience. SHRM/SLER has a good atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and we’re all there to learn new things!” she said.
Enger added that being a member of SHRM/SLER has the benefit of networking on several different levels. “Not only do you get to know your peers and alumni, but you also get to know the School’s faculty and staff. If you find yourself struggling with a class or interested in a topic for research, you know who to talk to about it. Plus, being in the club is a good way to be in the know about upcoming events and information sessions.”
Club members are not limited to the LER or LHR major. Enger noted that there have been members outside of the major and hopes to welcome more.
Enger said, “You can major in a lot of different things and still go into people management in the business world. Members with different majors also bring in new perspectives which can be truly beneficial. If you’re interested in HR but maybe not ready to jump into the major yet, definitely join the club. There are so many HR functions and the club allows you to explore them without waiting until you get into more specialized classes later in your academic career.”
The first SHRM/SLER meeting of the semester is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2. Email Mary Enger at email@example.com for the Zoom link and password.