Transitioning to HR One Step at a Time

Andrea Bocanegra is building her HR skills to influence the C-suite

Graduate Andrea Bocanegra
Meet certificate graduate and PHR-certified Andrea Bocanegra

"Table for an HR department of one now available." Such is Andrea Bocanegra's current human resources generalist position at a prominent restaurant chain. Unsure of making the career change to HR from a program coordinator role at a social enterprise accelerator program, Bocanegra started at the beginning: taking Essentials of Human Resources at UC Berkeley Extension. Not only did Bocanegra learn that, yes, moving into an HR role is the right path, but she also got validation in the form of a job interview. "In that first class," Bocanegra says, "the instructor offered to have me interview for her company, as well as giving me a good idea of what direction I might want to go in. I met a lot of new colleagues, some of whom turned out to be my greatest friends now."


Recently graduating from the Certificate Program in Human Resource Management and passing the Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) certification exam, Bocanegra looks back on her experience.

The instructor offered to have me interview for her company, as well as giving me a good idea of what direction I might want to go in.

What were some of your favorite moments from the certificate?
I really enjoyed Introduction to Human Capital Analytics with Karen Elkins Cohen. She really made data analysis and human capital analytics easy to grasp and applicable to my current position. It also made me realize that I have a lot more exploring to do in that field if I want to pursue the analytic side, which is really important.

In the past, HR was thought to be more administrative and tactical versus strategic. If you want to be strategic, you really need to know how to use the data your company has or to start collecting and gathering data so that you can make decisions. Companies use data analytics to evaluate all areas of HR such as whether or not the company is getting a good return on a training program. Analytics also help when you work with the C-suite to really influence them.

Any favorite instructors?
Sholeh Esmaili-Montoya, who teaches Employee Recruitment, Selection and Placement, made the class really fun. There was a lot about recruiting that could seem dry but she made it really interactive and would answer any of our questions. She was a fantastic resource and even provided my templates to use for my own job.

Marco Rosa, who teaches Effective Performance Management, has really gone out of his own way to introduce me to other professionals in the HR field and to explore different HR industries. He really gave us some good insights on performance management trends and best practices from him past work experience with life sciences companies in the Bay Area. It's information you can only get if you've been in the industry for as many years as he has. He brought HR more "out of the classroom."