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HPU students partner with Brownwood High School in hands-on project

By Chandler Condra, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – December 17, 2014 – During the fall 2014 semester, senior business students enrolled in Human Resource Management (HRM) at Howard Payne University worked with Brownwood High School students on a project designed to strengthen the relationship between the two schools and create a hands-on learning experience for both parties.

In an effort to provide both sets of students with valuable experiences, the focus of the project was résumé and job interview strategies. HPU students were responsible for researching and developing comprehensive résumé and interview workshops for the high school students to attend.

HRM interview at BHS for webDr. Kevin Kelley, assistant professor of organizational psychology, instructed the HRM students and oversaw the application of the project.

“Service learning is a growing field in education, and I believed there was a way to marry the needs of local high school students with the needs of college students,” said Dr. Kelley. “When you teach something you learn more about it, and I knew if I could get my students to teach something to the high school students, they would internalize more of the data they experience.”

The process began by creating three mock job descriptions outlining available positions in three fictitious companies. HPU students delivered brief presentations on the best practices in résumé writing and job interviewing, and the BHS students were tasked to create their own unique résumés for one of the three available positions and submit them for comments. After revising their résumés, the BHS students brought their final copies and were individually interviewed by students from the HRM class for the jobs the high school students selected.

Both sets of students gained hands-on experience with the materials they were tasked to create. For BHS students, this included a simulated testing of their knowledge of proper résumé format and interview etiquette. HPU students learned to design job descriptions, present created materials and interview prospective employees.

The Human Resource Management class consisted of 12 students who worked directly with more than 80 BHS students.

“Academics and the real world are very different,” said Dr. Kelley. “You don’t take tests in the real world. You create presentations, you seek value and you create value. That’s what we did here. We created value.”

Dr. Kelley was not alone in his thoughts. Coach David Edgin, who oversaw the BHS students involved, felt his classes gained much from the experience.

“Our résumé and interview assignment with HPU was beneficial for everyone involved,” said Edgin. “High school students need to know how to write professional résumés and how a true interview for a professional job should be handled.”

Students of the Human Resource Management class also believed the experience was valuable to them. Brittany Cavness, a senior from Lampasas, enjoyed the project and thinks it will help her when looking for a job in the future.

“The practicality of this project was refreshing,” said Cavness. “Having real-world experience is something we can use to get a leg up in our résumés.”

Dr. Kelley believes experiential assignments are the best way to introduce business students to the standards to which they will be held after graduation.

“When we use applied experiences, we require our students to meet a certain realistic standard of competence,” he said. “If you cannot sell your work then you bring no value to your employer. Brownwood ISD saw value in the project, so we are creating value for the community and thereby excelling at that level of competence.”

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Photo cutline: HPU student J.T. Muzquiz conducts a mock job interview for a student at Brownwood High School.

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