Student Profile: Ensuring That Businesses and Employees Work Smoothly
Interview with Shareema Granville
The following profile is the twelfth in a series of student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.
Job title: Life Cycle Manager, Automatic Data Processing
Degree earned: M.A. in Management, 2014, American Public University
What have you been doing since earning your master’s degree in management at APU?
After I earned my master’s in 2014, I started a position as Assistant HR Director for the YMCA in Westfield, NJ. I stayed there for about a year. Then I realized the potential for growth within the HR industry, so I left and went into the corporate sector. I currently work for one of the well-known companies when it comes to payroll and HR solutions, Automatic Data Processing (ADP).
What led you to choose a master’s degree with us? Was it based on passion or a specific career goal?
When I looked for a university to do my master’s, I searched for a school that had great reviews, low-cost tuition and a curriculum that wouldn’t be stressful. My research took me two weeks and I narrowed it down to two schools.
At the time, I was unsure about what my concentration should be within my major. I went with entrepreneurship, which APU offered, and that helped me with my decision. After a couple of classes, I changed my concentration to human resources.
Tell us about your position at your employer.
I am a life cycle manager for ADP TotalSource, a division within ADP. I assist employers and employees with their health benefits.
My team and I are located throughout the United States so that all of our clients and their employees experience face-to-face meetings. When we are not out in the field, we are behind the scenes, working out employee issues such as qualifying life changes and new hire issues that arise during the plan year.
The position that I currently hold allows me to travel 50% of the time, which makes it that much better because I get to travel to other states. I cannot wait until I have to meet with a client in Hawaii; that will be such an exciting workday and week that I will remember forever!
Did your degree with APU help prepare you for specific challenges you’ve come across in your field?
My degree opened up so many new opportunities for me and it especially prepared me for my current position at ADP. The courses that I took at APU taught me a lot about the human resources industry and opened up a pathway for my career journey.
The positions in HR that I held before my degree, although they were hands-on positions, never helped me with understanding core HR functions. My professors broke down every function, even on an international scale, which helped me with my role today at ADP.
How important are advanced degrees within the realm of HR?
Advanced degrees are highly respected and important within the HR industry. Many employers require only a bachelor’s degree.
But with a master’s degree, that shows that you are more competitive. You may stand out more than the average candidate. If you’re interested in obtaining professional credentials with an advanced degree, you are only required to have a minimum amount of work experience. With a bachelor’s degree, more years of experience are required.
What are the biggest challenges in your industry?
The biggest challenge in my industry is staying current with the policy and laws that continually change. HR works with state and government laws and then creates their own policies for the work site. If laws and policies are not followed properly, companies can risk being sued or may shut down, depending on the circumstances.
Is there a particular class or professor at APU that stood out?
The class that stood out to me was Organizational Development. Because I was interested in becoming an entrepreneur, this class allowed me to see how the lifecycle of an organization takes place. I could concentrate on specific areas within a business to keep it from failing, such as customer service and management.
What is your favorite thing about online learning?
I always struggled at a brick-and-mortar school because professors have a curriculum that they stick to and it has to get done no matter what. The problem is that many students have different learning skills. Most students cannot keep up with the pace of the class, so they fall behind. It shows on the tests.
With online learning, you have set deadlines. You choose when you need to study and meet those deadlines at your own pace. I was able to graduate with a 4.0 at APU and I owe it all to the structure of online learning.
Many subjects were challenging to me. But with the structure of the courses, I was able to do more research, talk one-on-one with professors and study online with a tutor if needed.
What are two key pieces of advice you would pass on to someone new to online education?
One piece of advice that I would pass on about online education is to tell everyone new to online learning that it is not as difficult as many people say. My oldest daughter went away to college to pursue her degree in marketing at a brick-and-mortar school in North Carolina.
She struggled because of the curriculum’s pace and could not keep up. Of course, telling a young adult to see a tutor and study a bit more is inevitable. I allowed my daughter to stay for her second semester but she continued to struggle. She withdrew from the school and started working fulltime, but she enrolled in APU, majoring in marketing.
My daughter was so afraid because there were no professors or classmates that she could physically see and automatically told me that she didn’t think she could do it. I promised her that if it was too much that I would enroll her back in a brick-and-mortar community college.
Today, my daughter is receiving As and Bs in the classes she has taken so far. She said, “Mom, you were right. This is much better than being in a classroom!”
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to travel and just enjoy life. As a mom of two girls and as a wife, my focus has been on my family.
Once the girls were big enough to do most things on their own, I went back to school and graduated with degrees three times within six years. I was determined. Online learning made it that much easier.
Our student profile series gives a face and personality to our dedicated online learners at the university. Interested in learning more about your online education options? Explore our schools and programs at APU.