When Sadia Saif relocated to the U.S. from her native Pakistan in 2007, she was in the midst of earning her M.B.A. from Bahria University. Moving to the Bay Area for personal reasons, Saif was unable to continue her studies and elected to stay at home with her children. Six years later, Saif was ready to re-enter the working world—but did she want to finish her M.B.A.?
It was while entertaining the idea of continuing her education that Saif learned about UC Berkeley Extension and the Certificate Program in Human Resource Management through some friends. “I initially learned HR concepts in Pakistan while earning my bachelor’s degree,” Saif says. “Gaining another country’s perspective in the same field has been a very enlightening experience. Taking these courses has allowed me to see the diversity of cultures and how differently or similarly things work in an American workplace.”
Initially drawn to the certificate’s flexible schedule—especially for a mother of two—Saif was also encouraged by the scholarship opportunity to offset the financial costs of completing her courses. One of our two winners for this year’s scholarship, Saif recalls the moment she learned of her good fortune:
“It was much-needed help financially, especially because I wasn’t employed at the time,” she recalls. “I jumped and screamed in excitement when I got the letter notifying me that I’d won. A payoff for my hard work, it restored my faith in my abilities. The cherry on top was when my young daughter said she was proud of me!”
Six courses deep into the curriculum, Saif is fascinated with the HR topics she’s learning and her instructors.
“I have found each instructor inspiring and motivational in their own way,” says Saif. “It has been an amazing learning experience so far. My first course, Aligning Human Resource Initiatives with Business Success with Karen Haley, made me realize how much I had missed the learning environment and intellectual discussions. She was very encouraging and gave me some good tips on how to start a career in HR.
“Marco Rosa, the instructor of the Effective Performance Management course, was a great help and wrote me a letter of recommendation for this scholarship, which I am truly grateful to him for,” continues Saif.
“I recently took the Mediation and Conflict Resolution course taught by Teresa Carey, and in every class there were two or three professional mediators as guest speakers,” says Saif. “They would talk about workplace conflicts and how they resolved them; we also did role-plays. I think it’s a great way of learning through other people’s experiences.”
As Saif prepares to complete the certificate, she’s hopeful for a fulfilling career in HR. “I never wanted a job that was exclusively sitting in front of the computer or at a desk all day, without human interaction—hence pursuing a career in HR,” says Saif. “I’ve always liked interacting with people and solving problems.
“This certificate is a great way to network and get to know people in different professional fields,” Saif says with resolve. “I’ve always dreamt of working in Google one day in event planning and management; for now, I know I have to start from the bottom and work my way up the professional ladder.”