What are Human Services Employers Looking For?

What are Human Services Employers Looking For?

For Shannon Boyce-Cambpell, the Bachelor of Applied Human Services Administration was the step she needed to advance her career.

Working your way up in the Human Services field can be a challenge. Today, Shannon the director of Family Community Support Services in Ponoka, AB, but in 2006 she was working full-time elsewhere, maintaining an acreage and raising a family as the single mother of young children.

Progressing in her field required Shannon to further her education, but her personal and professional commitments made selecting a program very challenging. “I knew that I wanted to further my education, but commuting to a university was pretty unrealistic,” she explains.

The Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration (BAHSA) was a natural fit for Shannon. The online degree offers a great deal of flexibility, and is designed to accommodate the busy lives of working professionals. The applied degree allows you to earn credits while you work, applying your new knowledge, and learning on the job.

“My work history was the social work field and human service,” says Shannon. “So the program was a natural fit after. To be able to do some of it through distance and to apply it to what I was already doing but I could still further my education, keep my career and stay in my community where my support network was as a family, as a parent.”

“You work in Human Services because you already have the interest and the passion and the ability. What you need is the tools to make the job easier and that’s sort of what the program does”

Climbing the Ladder

Experience in the field can only take you so far. Management jobs in human services require skill sets that are not always picked up on the job. Business skills, project management, public speaking – for managers the boardroom is just as important as the field.

Shannon knows the different skills that managers need. “You have to be a bit of an accountant, you have to be a communicator, you have to be a leader, you have to deal with difficult situations and people.”

But it is important to balance these new skills with experience in the field. The applied degree integrates your knowledge into the workplaces. The ability to try new skills, and to question and hone old ones, is invaluable in the fast-paced and stressful field.

“You work in Human Services because you already have the interest and the passion and the ability. What you need is the tools to make the job easier and that’s sort of what the program does”

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Flexibility to Learn on Your Schedule

The applied degree not only helped Shannon learn by doing, it helped her maintain and income and get valuable work experience while balancing her other commitments.

“Because it is an applied degree,” she explains, “I did some of the work alongside my job. I live in a rural setting, so I have responsibilities: an acreage, my kids and their activities, that sort of thing. If I had to go to night classes, that was going to be quite a challenge. But his degree worked, and was a nice balance without having to give up any income.”

The program is structured to allow a great deal of flexibility. Online learning means that coursework can take place in the comfort of home. And two field placements help students earn credits while working and focusing on applying your skills.

“I know that it can be somewhat overwhelming and daunting to think about tackling a degree and finishing it,” Shannon admits. “I started in 2006 as a single mom working full time and I did one course at a time and before I knew it, it was completed.”

“The best part is that you’re challenging yourself and your career.”

Be Employable

The BAHSA provides all the skills employers are looking for in the human services: leadership, communication, management, and a strong working knowledge of the field.

“I’ve been on both sides: hiring new employees and looking for different work,” says Shannon.  “The degree speaks of leadership, it speaks to the ability address the needs of a community or an organization.”

The broad range of knowledge you are exposed to working with other students and in your workplace is a valuable and applicable experience. Solutions to problems in one community or workplace are important to know, especially when seeking a new job or career.

Shannon explains, “I found it very interesting to do projects with people that run daycares and also people who run Family and Community Support Services or who run home support programs. There are some really neat ideas that were gathered from the cyber classroom, that I used in my own community, so the networking alone was a benefit.”

The degree is also a great way to advance within an organization. “I think employers are quite supportive of their staff doing professional development and bettering themselves. You can find ways that this works without losing your income and without having to have added expenses of moving or traveling to attend a school.”

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