Skip to Page Content

"My SHRM Northeast Regional Student Conference Experience" by Meghan Porcell

    June 9, 2014

    My SHRM Northeast Regional Student Conference Experience, By Meghan Porcelli

    This April 2014, I attended the SHRM Northeast Regional Student Conference in Providence, Rode Island thanks to a generous scholarship from the HR State Council of New Hampshire. I am very thankful for this opportunity to speak with HR professionals about the best ways to enter the field and connect with other professionals. The seminars and networking events provided new insights into the field and allowed me to gain a greater grasp of the many different areas of HR.

    The conference was located at the Hilton Hotel and was held from Friday morning to early Saturday evening. Friday was mainly for case competitions with a welcome reception in the evening. I arrived in the afternoon and was disappointed with the small turnout for Friday for I found it difficult to network and meet other HR oriented students. This may have been due to schools participating in the case studies and many of those who did not participate did not arrive until Saturday morning.

    Friday, I was able to attend a Career Development Mentoring Session with a HR professional from the Corvias Group, who gave me advice on resume formatting and using industry specific job websites to find HR positions. I found her advice to be very helpful and implemented some of her resume suggestions after the conference. Following my career session, I attended the welcome reception, which had a small attendance and consisted of an icebreaker, where we had to get signatures of people that corresponded with the descriptions given. During this exercise I met a group of Masters students from Hofstra University, who came from abroad to study human resources, as well as several industry professionals who suggested looking for HR assistant or coordinator positions after graduation to break into the field.

                The second day of the conference consisted of several workshops and another career mentoring session. I was pleasantly pleased with the increased turnout on Saturday, with many students arriving that morning for the day. The conference’s full day started with breakfast and the general session, Against All Odds: Ready, Set, Go by Miguel Joey Aviles, the CEO and change agent of MJA International. It was an extremely engaging and interesting motivational speech inspiring students to achieve their goals and to overcome their challenges and the status quo. The presentation had three parts: 1) Ready, focusing on being ready to face challenges particularly lack of experience, mom and dad being your network, and generational differences; 2) Set: How to Disrupt your Career, focusing on being married to your mentorships and turning them into sponsors, being married to your goals, being married to marketing yourself and your brand, and to destroying bias; and 3) Go: Push the Cow, illustrating how to develop new skills to get out of your comfort zone by tossing a giant stuffed cow around the audience. Mr. Aviles’ presentation was very upbeat and an excellent way to get students excited for the rest of the conference.

                The day followed with two sets of concurrent sessions. I chose to attend How HR Can Facilitate Teaming for Learning & Innovation by William Ninehan, the director of HR Program Development at the NY Institute of Technology, and Campus to Career by Martha Ramirez, the divisional director of Central SHRM.  The teaming workshop focused on how teams are used in organizations and how they relate to HR. It touched on what teams need to succeed, their advantages, major challenges, and what the concept of teaming is. I learned that teaming is a dynamic way of working that provides necessary coordination and collaboration without the luxury of a stable team structure. The presentation illustrated when this would be appropriate, how it could be implemented, best practices and how HR can support teaming. I thought it was an interesting approach to teams and how they can benefit an organization.

                My second session was Campus to Career, during which Ms. Ramirez spoke about using SHRM LinkedIn members as a network, developing an elevator speech, proving qualifications, and growing professionally. I found her workshop to be a nice refresher and to have some helpful hints, however as a graduating senior in the middle of my job search I was aware of most the points. I believe this presentation would be helpful for underclassman and students not sure of what career path to pursue.

                Following my two sessions, I attended a second Career Development Mentoring Session during which I met with a recruiter from Travelers. She gave me constructive criticism regarding my resume and examples on how to use company details to impress during an interview or cover letter. I thought her ideas to incorporate finer details such as stock price and company news to be an out of the ordinary tactic and helpful for the future. However, I was disappointed after this session and in between the two earlier ones, for the mentors and industry professionals were nowhere to be found between/after sessions for potential networking opportunities.

                The conference ended with the closing keynote session, Best Practices in Talent Management Strategy by Elissa O’Brien, the VP of SHRM Membership. Her presentation concentrated on globalization, potential US talent shortages, and four key talent management strategy components. It was an interesting take on talent management and called to our attention many challenges facing HR in the future that I was unaware of. She spoke of having talent shortages, particularly in the STEM fields leading to worldwide competition for candidates. The four strategy components she spoke of included having an integrated system for talent management, effective succession planning, creative leadership development, and a family friendly corporate culture. Personally, I have not had the opportunity to learn about talent management in HR and found her presentation to be very insightful and an excellent way to close the conference.

    Leading up to the final presentation were final case presentations and the announcement of winners for the case competition followed it. I was disappointed for the case presentations, though not the most stimulating part of the conference, were poorly attended and those who chose not to observe were nowhere to be found for networking, including industry professionals. I found it interesting and what must have been embarrassing for several schools that were not present during closing remarks and winner announcements with nine out of ten schools that participated in case competitions, not including four finalists, left early prior to the closing presentation and winner announcements. I believe the schools that had students remaining should be proud that their students remained and were respectful to the final presenter and case competitions winners. I am glad I represented our chapter, university and the Council in a respectful and appropriate manner.

                I am extremely glad I attended the conference and was able to meet other students aspiring to join the HR industry. I found it very helpful and insightful to be able to speak with industry professionals and after which felt more confident in networking, particularly over LinkedIn. Additionally, after having my resume evaluated by several professionals and hearing different perspectives, I was motivated to update and reformat my resume. It also reinforced the fact that every recruiter will have a different opinion and preference for resumes, which led me to identify and become confident in personal branding and resume formats that I believe are the best fit for me. I highly recommend students attend SHRM Student Conferences because they help provide insight into the field and allow you to make new connections with new perspectives. I personally found it beneficial and rewarding to meet people who share my passion for HR and be able to discuss my career aspirations with other students and professionals. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference for it made me feel more connected to the HR community and has motivated me to continue to participate in SHRM and other HR organizations after graduation.