The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Plan, Stretch, Connect: How Six Early-Career HR Professionals Are Developing Professionally in Higher Ed

Pictured (left to right): Shamika Patterson, HR coordinator at University of Iowa; Tapiwanashe Nhundu, employment manager at Williams College; Chris Roediger, director of HR at the Art Academy of Cincinnati; Thuy Nguyen, HR professional at the University of Colorado at Denver; Heather Butterfield, director of HR at Viterbo University; and Drexel King, learning and leadership manager at Baylor University

Six early-career professionals who are participants in CUPA-HR’s 2017-18 Wildfire program — Shamika Patterson, Tapiwanashe Nhundu, Chris Roediger, Thuy Nguyen, Heather Butterfield and Drexel King — joined nearly 200 individuals July 13-16 in Tempe, Arizona, for the Association Leadership Program (ALP), an annual gathering of CUPA-HR leaders from the chapter, regional and national levels, corporate partner organizations and national office staff.

As a kick-off to the Wildfire program, participants used their time in Tempe to learn about the challenges and opportunities within the program and chart a course for their development.

Here’s how they’re approaching the year ahead (psst … you can steal these ideas to bolster your own career development!):

  • Create a plan.

First up is creating an individual development plan to identify specific skills each participant would like to gain during the program year and what actions he or she needs to take to improve in those areas.

To learn more about creating a development plan, check out this blog post or take this free CUPA-HR e-learning course.

  • Identify a stretch project or opportunity.

Each participant will create and carry out a project that will help put into action the skills she or he is focused on developing.

To identify your own stretch project, speak with your supervisor to discuss opportunities that may be available within your department or campus. Past Wildfire projects have included creating supervisory training programs, educating HR professionals about Stay Interviews, (a CUPA-HR membership is required for access), improving HR’s relationship with athletic departments and others.

  • Get connected.

Access to a network of tens of thousands of higher ed HR professionals is often cited as the most beneficial part of participating not only in the Wildfire program, but also in CUPA-HR membership. The Wildfire participants used their time at ALP to talk with other attendees, ask questions about doing HR in higher education, and share institutional practices.

Although the connections they’ll be building throughout the year will be facilitated by program leaders and national office staff, there are many ways to connect with others in CUPA-HR without that tailored guidance. A few of those include the CUPA-HR Connect online community, the member directory, face-to-face learning events at the national and local levels and others.

This group of Wildfire participants will have extra guidance and unique opportunities, but their paths of development can be replicated. From ALP, they walked away ready to create a plan for development, identify ways to improve and practice their skills, and learn from experienced higher ed leaders. You can do the same.

Stay tuned throughout the year to learn more about the work and development of the Wildfire class of 2017-18!