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Gaining real-world experience: Connecting students with companies to tackle business challenges

Stories | 06.04.24

This is Adler series logoEditor’s note: Adler University offers a variety of unique learning experiences that train socially responsible practitioners across its three campuses. This is Adler is a monthly series highlighting these unique programs, courses, and people educating tomorrow’s advocates.

For Mrigeesha Prashant Mehta, her pursuit of a Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology degree combines her life-long interest in psychology and her family’s background in the business sector.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in my family who is not in management, accounting, human resources, or marketing,” Mehta said, laughing. “So, studying I/O psychology aligns with my interest and a field that I’m familiar with. Plus, I worked in sales and marketing for two years and enjoyed it. So, I’m happy to have found something that was a blend of the two.”

Born and raised in Dubai, Mehta arrived at Adler University’s Vancouver Campus in January 2023 and most recently completed a unique 15-week course within the I/O program — Strategic Human Resources Management.

The course introduces students to human resource management while highlighting the use of psychological theories and methodologies to strategically develop human resources in organizations. It focuses on current behavioral science developments applicable to business.

However, the highlight of the course is the chance for students to gain hands-on experience in assisting a company and employers in tackling organizational challenges and developing practical solutions. This is done through a partnership with the Riipen platform, a leading experiential learning platform that assists students in gaining real-world industry experience.

For over three months, Mehta and her classmates assisted InPower, a start-up company and platform dedicated to healing and empowerment for women and nonbinary individuals, with creating a recruitment plan and staffing program.

“We had to be very mindful of the company’s needs, budget, and employees,” she said. “This wasn’t some fictitious organization. Our recommendations had real-world impact.”

In this issue of This is Adler, Mehta shares what led her to travel halfway around the world to attend Adler University, her experience with Riipen and InPower, and how the I/O program will ultimately translate to her professional goals.

Why did you choose Adler University to pursue a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology?

I knew Adler University was one of the very few universities to offer the I/O program, especially in Canada. My search never really went anywhere beyond Adler because I knew about the University, and its values aligned with my interests in social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. But I’m so glad to be here as an international student. The weather isn’t as warm as in Dubai, but everyone has been so welcoming and positive.

What did you enjoy most from taking the Strategic Human Resources Management course?

One of the things I really liked about the course was the additional Riipen component, which linked us to a real company or organization and assigned us to a project that helped employees with HR services.

Getting that real-world exposure and working with clients while you’re a student is invaluable because I know it can be challenging to gain that experience as a student, especially as an international student. I loved that I got that exposure, established my network, and learned a lot about Canadian industry norms and practices.

Tell us more about the project you and your classmates were assigned.

We were asked to help a start-up company called InPower by creating a recruitment plan that can assist them with hiring more qualified people for their team. They had one person in human resources, so we weren’t starting from scratch, but the work can be overwhelming for just one person. We were able to support this person by conducting research and sharing some of today’s best practices to follow.

We met every week, and by the end of the term, we provided InPower’s team with a report and presented our findings and recommendations. We created the recruitment plant, from start to finish and explained every single step, including conducting market research, where they should post their job searches, write job descriptions that will attract the best candidates, and how to screen applicants. We also included details on how to train for the job, how to communicate with the rejected applicant, etc.

What did you think about the experience?

It was powerful. I learned and took away so much from the course and our project. The team from InPower was very friendly and supportive. They communicated clearly and gave us everything we needed to help create the recruitment plan. Our professor also guided us along the way whenever we encountered problems.

It was a great experience because we could take the theoretical work we studied in class and put it into practice by working with a full-time client.

What are your professional goals, and how will this experience help you achieve them?

I’m very much interested in applying my I/O degree to helping organizations succeed, specifically working with higher management and getting more of them to buy in on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. The Riipen project with InPower was also valuable because we were fortunate enough to speak directly and work with the company’s founder. So, this project gave me additional experience in the process of managerial buy-in because I was able to interact with those in leadership positions and see how their brain worked. While the course is required for all I/O students, I encourage every student to take embrace and take full advantage of the experience.

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