January 27, 2015
When Weirton, W.Va., native Alexandra Bobalik was approaching graduation, she struggled with the job search. With a double major in international studies and Chinese, she was well educated but unsatisfied with her career options.
She considered graduate school, but wasn’t sure what she wanted to study. She paid a visit to the Office of Graduate Programs at B&E and stumbled upon the Master of Science in Industrial Relations (MSIR) program. That very same day, Dr. Neil Bucklew, professor and past President of West Virginia University, set aside some time to sit down with Bobalik and discuss the program. She never looked back.
“The program and its professors are so personable. They really make an effort to connect with students, and that really stood out for me,” Bobalik said.
She pulled from her past personal experiences and realized what an important role HR/IR plays in the workforce.
“All throughout (undergrad) I worked. I had all these customer service experiences, and not all of them were fantastic,” Bobalik admitted. “It was something I would want to change. Reaching the potential of workers and really valuing your greatest resource – your human capital – is really important. I’ve seen that firsthand and it led me to want to pursue MSIR.”
Fast forward to today. She’s just wrapped up her first semester of the MSIR program in December. She’s already secured an internship for the summer of 2015 at Synchrony Financial in Stamford, Connecticut. She’s across the world in Strasbourg, France, studying HR within a European context. It’s all very exciting.
“At first glance, I know it seems a little odd for an international studies and Chinese major to find themselves in a business master’s program,” Bobalik said.
But so far, she’s realized that her past studies have given her a unique and valuable perspective to the field.
“In my undergraduate degrees, I was taught to look at the world from a new perspective and embrace differences as well as change. And that matches up well with the MSIR program in the sense that the workforce is a constantly changing environment that is getting more diverse every day,” she said.
Her past experience, which includes study abroad trips to Taipei, Taiwan, and Beijing, China, spurred her interest in pursuing the MSIR’s Global Track focus.
“I initially chose (the Global Track) because it (aligned with) my passions,” Bobalik explained. “It gives us a chance to really see how different countries interact in regard to their HR practices. We can take that (knowledge) into our careers – a lot of companies that recruit from here are global companies. They like to see that you can have that different perspective.”
Bobalik is enjoying the experiential learning the MSIR program provides, as well as the relationship building with supportive MSIR alumni and faculty. When asked if any particular professor has made an impact on her, she was a bit torn on what to say.
“The MSIR program has prompted me to mature more in the past four months than I have in the last four years,” she said. “It’s hard to single out professors when every single one of them is so engaged and so invested in your success.”