Like many who are getting ready to leave secondary school, final year BA (Honours) in Human Resource Management student, Chloe Baxter, didn't know what she wanted to do next. None of the courses she seen jumped out to her so she decided to gain experience in industry first which gave her the opportunity to learn about the different functions of a business and lead to her interest in HRM.
Returning to education as a mature student, Chloe decided to study at NCI as she had heard about the college's reputation for excellence in human resource management education. She shares her experience of the course to date, including her 1-year work placement with Microsoft, along with her advice for those considering their college choices, below.
1. Why did you choose to study the BA (Honours) in Human Resource Management at NCI?
From working in previous roles, I developed a keen interest in HR side of business. I had always enjoyed the people side and problem-solving idea of the HR function.
When I finished school, no courses jumped out at me so I decided to put college on hold. Instead, I got a job in retail with the aim of figuring out what I wanted to do through that route instead. I gained experience across a range of roles, including Aer Lingus where I had the opportunity to move into an office admin role which I really enjoyed. This was the point where I began to think about a career in human resource management.
I had been looking at the course in NCI for Human Resource Management for a few months as I had always heard that National College of Ireland was the best place for HR education but I just kept putting it on the back burner - that was until 2020. When the pandemic hit, the company I was working for started redundancies and I was one of them. With no idea when the pandemic would be over and nowhere really hiring at the time, I decided to use that opportunity to go to college as a mature student and get started on the career in HR that I had kept brushing to the side!
Fast forward to now and I couldn’t be happier with my decision! It is definitely something I enjoy and feel energised by.
2. Can you share some insights into studying Human Resource Management at NCI?
I would recommend this course to anyone looking to study this human resource management.
The vast amount of modules we cover on this course is really great and something I’ve been so thankful for. As I had not been in a school or college environment for some time, the intro modules such as Accounting, for example, have been a great help to me. The Human Resources and Employment Law modules cover so much and always involve current workplace or HR trends and topics which keep it interesting and easy to relate to.
My time as a HRM student has been a challenging but it has also been exciting with a lot of new beginnings and firsts for me. I can’t wait to see what's in store for my final year!
There is a real community feel at NCI compared to bigger colleges where it’s easy to get forgotten. The lecturers I’ve had at NCI are so knowledgeable and full of real-life examples and experiences that they’re always willing to share with us. The smaller class sizes also mean you can ask questions and share opinions with ease in a more personable environment.
3. You completed your work placement at Microsoft recently. Tell us about your experience working at Microsoft and what you learned as a result of your placement.
As the placement year in this course was optional, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add on another year to my studies or not- but now, I’m so glad I did! I was absolutely delighted to accept an offer with Microsoft as a HR Business Partner Intern after a couple of interviews and a challenging assessment centre. It has proven to be an incredibly transformative experience.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the internship, especially within such a big company. I asked myself, would I be doing the small nitty gritty jobs that nobody liked or would I have some real projects to work on? The answer was the latter. I was involved with real projects and given responsibilities from the get-go! It was a daunting and challenging year at times but 100% for the good. I learned so much about HR and the many different functions involved but also how to navigate through such a large and complex organisation and the challenges it can face.
In my time at Microsoft, there were a lot of organisational changes that came into effect which was really the best experience for me to get to see first-hand. I was able to connect some of what I had learned in my modules in the previous years with those real-life challenges that the team faced. It was inspiring to see how they worked through changes as a team, always remembering to check in on each other as well as seeing the amount of dedication that goes on in the background during these changes.
Another aspect of my role was working in the Diversity and Inclusion council within the company. This was the most eye-opening and also my favourite experience of the year. I got to drive and own D&I projects myself which helped me learn a lot about how important culture and prioritising connection is in an organisation.
With being a part of so many different projects across HR, Diversity and Inclusion and other intern initiatives, it developed my skills in so many areas mainly keeping to deadlines, prioritising and also the importance of networking and connecting with people in the business. Not only did it help me in a HR sense but also in developing my personal skills and understanding what my strengths are and the things I can work on for the future.
Overall, I’m so happy I took part in the placement year as I now feel more confident about moving into a HR role after college and have a better understanding of some of the challenges and topics that can be faced in the business world.
4. Do you have any advice for someone who is considering their CAO Options?
Your CAO options should be reflective of you! Think about what interests you and what you feel passionate about, it’s easy to go with something you think you should pick rather than something that you would actually like for yourself and will enjoy. Reach out to people who are in the field you are looking at and gain some more insights for yourself.
It’s also incredibly hard to know what you want to do when you’re just coming out of school so remember that it’s okay not to know what you want straight away, like myself for example, you can always come back as a mature student. It took me a little while to find my passion but now I know it’s what I want to do!
5. Finally, what's next for you and your career?
For the moment, I am focusing on putting in the time and effort for my final year to hopefully achieve a good result and applying for HR Graduate roles! In the future, I don’t know where my HR career will take me as I’m still working out what areas I would like to focus on and settle into but I’m also enjoying the process of finding out along the way.
Chloe is studying the BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management at National College of Ireland. Visit our events page to register for one of our upcoming CAO Open Days to see if choosing NCI is right for you!