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Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Best schools from which to recruit HR interns and other early career candidates

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Anita Jobb AvatarAnita Jobb
May 24, 2024

When you’re recruiting students for internships or recent grads for early career human resource jobs, which are your favorite schools to recruit from and why? Here is what 12 thought leaders have to say.

  • USC Grads Excel in Practical Applications
  • USC’s Innovative HR Curriculum Attracts Recruiters
  • Wharton’s Rigorous Business Programs Foster HR Talent
  • Hands-On Experience Prioritized in HR Recruitment
  • Practical Learning and Diversity in HR Hiring
  • Diverse NYC Schools Offer Multifaceted HR Candidates
  • Rutgers University: A Trusted Source for HR Talent
  • Seeking Passionate Graduates from Innovative Schools
  • UIUC’s Interdisciplinary Approach Produces HR Experts
  • Partnering with Schools for Practical HR Skills
  • Harvard’s Prestige Draws Ambitious HR Candidates
  • Cornell and MSU Offer Ethical HR Graduates

USC Grads Excel in Practical Applications

We often hire from the University of Southern California due to its strong business school and emphasis on leadership development. USC students often tend to be good with people, international in outlook, and possess an ability to translate theory into practice with experience gained through internships and projects.

As such, their flexibility and creativity make them a natural fit for our fast-paced working environment. The emphasis that the university places on real-world applications ensures that graduates are not just knowledgeable but able to hit the ground running from day one. The skills and experience that we require match the environments and cultures of our company and the university.

Sunaree Komolchomalee, Head of Human Resources, Cupid PR

USC’s Innovative HR Curriculum Attracts Recruiters

The University of Southern California (USC) is known for its innovative human resources curriculum and significant emphasis on leadership and organizational development. USC’s Marshall School of Business provides a specialized human resource management curriculum that combines modern HR methods with strategic business ideas. 

The program’s emphasis on innovation and leadership development ensures that graduates are prepared to face dynamic professional conditions. Furthermore, USC’s extensive alumni network provides crucial connections and mentorship opportunities, which enhance students’ employment prospects. USC graduates are known for their strategic thinking, adaptability, and ability to drive HR initiatives that align with business objectives.

Timothy Allen, Director, Oberheiden P.C.

Wharton’s Rigorous Business Programs Foster HR Talent

When I’m recruiting students for internships or early-career HR jobs, I often look to schools known for their strong business programs, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Their curriculum is rigorous, and they emphasize real-world applications of HR theories and practices. The students from Wharton usually display a strong understanding of strategic management and employee relations, which are crucial in HR roles.

I also appreciate their global perspective, as many students participate in international programs. This exposure to diverse cultures and business practices makes them adaptable and innovative, qualities that are highly valued in our global company.

Bert Hofhuis, Founder, Every Investor

Hands-On Experience Prioritized in HR Recruitment

I prefer recruiting interns or recent HR grads from schools that focus on hands-on experience and encourage continuous learning. These schools offer opportunities like internships, cooperative programs, or HR-related projects, giving students practical knowledge to apply their classroom learning. They also provide resources and support for students to develop essential skills like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. 

Recruiting from these schools ensures we bring on candidates who are not only academically prepared but also have practical skills and a growth mindset. It helps them start strong and contribute effectively to our HR team, fostering innovation and success within our organization.

Jeffrey Pitrak, Marketing Account Manager, Transient Specialists

Practical Learning and Diversity in HR Hiring

When it comes to recruiting interns or recent graduates for HR roles, I have a unique approach that sets me apart. Instead of solely focusing on prestigious schools, I prioritize institutions that emphasize practical experience and diversity. 

I seek out schools with robust internship programs and cooperative-education initiatives, as these often produce graduates with hands-on skills and real-world insights. Additionally, I prioritize diversity and inclusion, actively seeking schools that attract a diverse pool of talent. 

By prioritizing practical learning and diversity, I ensure that we recruit HR professionals who are not only academically proficient but also equipped to drive innovation and success in our organization.

Cassie Fields, President, Autoleap

Diverse NYC Schools Offer Multifaceted HR Candidates

When recruiting for internships or early-career positions in human resources, I’ve found several institutions consistently produce highly skilled and adaptable graduates. Notably, the University of Rochester, my alma mater, has a robust emphasis on both technical and soft skills, preparing students excellently for the dynamic demands of human resources roles. Their interdisciplinary approach ensures that students not only learn the theoretical aspects of the field but also gain practical, real-world experience.

In the vibrant New York City area, schools like The New School, Pratt Institute, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and The City College of New York stand out for their distinctive strengths. The New School is renowned for its progressive curriculum and focus on innovation, making its graduates well-equipped to handle the creative and strategic aspects of HR roles. Pratt Institute, while primarily an art school, instills a deep understanding of design thinking and problem-solving, skills that are increasingly valuable in developing organizational culture and employee engagement strategies.

FIT offers specialized programs that intersect with HR, such as International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, which provides insights into global market trends and consumer behavior—an invaluable asset in a globalized workforce. Lastly, The City College of New York offers a robust business program with a solid grounding in organizational management and behavioral psychology, critical for roles in human resources.

These institutions not only provide excellent academic grounding but also emphasize real-world applications and problem-solving skills essential for the modern HR landscape. Their diverse student bodies also promote a multicultural understanding, which is a significant asset in today’s globalized business environment.

Valev Laube, Branding Expert, Designer and Marketing Director,

Rutgers University: A Trusted Source for HR Talent

When recruiting for human resource positions, I have a weakness for candidates from Rutgers University.

Obviously, not all schools produce the best candidates, but rather the person’s commitment, ambition, and willingness to continuously learn and grow. However, I have often witnessed and tested the excellent education of Rutgers graduates, covering both academic knowledge and practical application. 

Let’s add to this the interdisciplinary approach to learning, going beyond human resource management, labor relations, or employment law, and additionally covering, for example, psychology, economics, business strategy, or sociology. 

Additionally, I trust that renowned scholars and experienced practitioners bring knowledge and industry experience to the classroom, involving students in research that shapes HR practices and policies.

Comprehensive HRM programs, strong industry connections, and practical experience opportunities make me appreciate Rutgers-educated candidates and trust their skills, dedication, and eagerness to grow.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, MyPerfectResume

Seeking Passionate Graduates from Innovative Schools

Finding the right talent is like uncovering gems in a vast sea. My favorites are schools where passion meets skill, where students demonstrate not just academic excellence but a hunger to learn and grow. Institutions fostering a culture of curiosity and innovation are my go-to. 

These graduates bring fresh perspectives and a drive to make a real impact, aligning perfectly with our ethos at Empathy First Media.

Daniel Lynch, President and Owner, Empathy First Media

UIUC’s Interdisciplinary Approach Produces HR Experts

I particularly favor recruiting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for HR roles.

The school has an excellent reputation in both business studies and psychology, which are critical components of human resources management. Students from UIUC tend to have strong analytical skills paired with a deep understanding of organizational behavior, thanks to their interdisciplinary approach.

Additionally, their HR program includes a lot of practical, hands-on training through internships and case studies, which means graduates are well-prepared to hit the ground running. The vibrant campus life also fosters strong interpersonal skills among students, which is essential in HR.

Sam Browne, Founder, Findaband

Partnering with Schools for Practical HR Skills

When seeking interns or recent graduates for early-career HR roles, I prioritize schools renowned for their outstanding HR programs. These institutions emphasize practical learning, providing internships, co-op programs, and HR-related projects to equip students with hands-on skills. 

Collaborating with such schools grants me access to a diverse talent pool of well-prepared candidates primed for entry-level HR positions. Their fresh perspectives and practical knowledge enrich our HR teams, enhancing our problem-solving capabilities and fostering innovation. 

Partnering with schools that prioritize practical experience ensures we recruit individuals who not only excel academically but also possess the real-world skills necessary to thrive in the dynamic environment of the HR profession.

Brian Staver, CEO, Net Pay Advance

Harvard’s Prestige Draws Ambitious HR Candidates

Top-tier applicants with a solid background in both academic knowledge and practical abilities are regularly produced by Harvard. Our team dynamics are enhanced by the diverse perspectives that its student population brings to the table. 

The demanding coursework at the institution ensures that graduates are prepared for the challenges of HR positions. Furthermore, the prestige of a Harvard education attracts ambitious, motivated individuals who are eager to succeed in their careers.

Helen Armstrong, Founder, Apsley Australia

Cornell and MSU Offer Ethical HR Graduates

Top schools for recruiting HR interns and grads include Cornell and Michigan State. These institutions offer robust HR programs, producing candidates who are well-versed in both theory and practical applications. 

Their students often demonstrate strong problem-solving skills and an understanding of ethical practices, aligning with our values of transparency and respect for creativity in the workplace.

Dan Ponomarenko, CEO, Webvizio

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