Building on a Master’s in Human Resource Management

Certificate graduate Yvonne Ayala draws from both strategic and transaction aspects of the HR profession

It was during her work as an HR assistant that Yvonne Ayala realized that this was the career she wanted to pursue. The following year, Yvonne moved to Spain and began the next step in solidifying HR as her profession: obtaining a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

“When I settled back in California,” Yvonne says, “I took on a recruiting position but knew early on that I really wanted to work in a generalist capacity.”

To do so, Yvonne returned to the classroom. Why?

Because while she was able to draw upon the strategic knowledge gained from her master’s program, Yvonne wanted a better understanding of the transactional side of HR, specifically as it is applied in the United States. “I had turned to my manager for advice on how to grow my career in HR,” Yvonne recalls. “He said that early in his career, he had completed an HR certificate and found it helpful in developing his career.”

Looking to boost her résumé—"Any time you have UC Berkeley attached to the name, you automatically think quality and rigor”—and taking classes close to work—"the San Francisco campus was easy to access”—Yvonne turned to the Certificate Program in Human Resource Management.

 

 

My manager had completed an HR certificate and found it helpful in developing his career.

 

 

“The certificate is great because it does several things,” Yvonne adds, breaking those down as such:

You gain knowledge in your field and you learn from the diversity that exists in these classes. It’s also an opportunity to network and meet others who have the same goals and turn those professional connections into friendships.

I found most students were friendly and eager to learn. I was excited to interact with people from different backgrounds, from a variety of countries, those with many years of experience and others who were just getting started.

What I enjoyed most about my teachers was that many of them were senior HR professionals and would give you the inside scoop into their day to day.

My favorite instructor was Terri Lynn Cardona, otherwise known as “TLC.” She was my instructor for Effective Performance Management and Aligning Human Resource Initiatives With Business Success. She used her many years of experience in HR to bring the material to life. Her courses were my most challenging and yet my most enjoyable. She went above and beyond by helping students secure internships, and in some cases job opportunities. She loves to teach and it shows. I will always remember her as one of my best teachers, and I am happy and proud to now call her my friend.

It also signals to potential employers that I’m serious about my profession and adds credibility to my profile as a candidate: It says that I am willing to invest my time and resources.

I remember taking a class on Human Resources Systems and Technology and needing to evaluate a new Applicant Tracking System at my work. I used a lot of what I learned in that class in order to ask questions of the account executives who were trying to sell us their product. I asked about open API integration, the level of security and location of their servers, what would happen to the collection of data on candidates if our relationship ended and how would that be delivered to us, would it be clean data, etcetera. I remember thinking, “Wow, I learned a lot from my classes!”


Since completing the certificate in 2017, Yvonne continues to apply lessons learned from class to her work as HR specialist at EO Products, which is a certified B Corporation that produces organic body-care products. The company currently employs 150: “While we are a small company, we are growing and have experienced double-digit growth over the past five years and are projected to continue growing.”

 

 

Earning the certificate is a source of pride.

 

 

Supporting not only the 150 employees and the company’s skyward success, Yvonne is one of just two HR employees: While the department is small, it allows Yvonne to wear many different hats, creating an environment where “no two days are the exact same.” And yet, one thing does remain consistent day in and day out: “I use Spanish every day. We have a large monolingual Spanish-speaking population that works here and I serve as liaison between the company and our workers.”

On any given day, you will find Yvonne working on onboarding, recruiting, HRIS management, benefits administration, employee relations, training, workers’ compensation and special projects such as developing a performance-management system.

And on any given day, Yvonne is employing knowledge gained through the certificate to successfully execute on these various responsibilities. “It comes up when I least expect it,” Yvonne adds. “It comes up during conversations with employees or when I coach managers on how to have difficult conversations or when talking with vendors about a service they are providing or understanding what metrics impact our bottom line.

“Earning the certificate is a source of pride because the knowledge I have obtained has aided me on how to confront some of the challenges that have come up at work.”