October Alumni Career Profile
Name: William Cain
Class Year: 1983
Major: Industrial Psychology
Current Employer: Harvard University
Describe your career path since graduation.
My first job in Human Resources was working as an entry-level Personnel Assistant. After a year of doing that work, I found a higher level job as a Personnel Manager in another organization. Since then, over the past 20 years I have worked in various senior level Human Resources jobs in several different industries. I also made a brief career change in the middle of my Human Resources career, working as an elementary school teacher.
What is your current position and how long have you been with your employer?
Assistant Director of Human Resources. I have been with Harvard for three years.
Describe the main responsibilities of your position.
I oversee a full range of Human Resources services for our organization. This includes recruitment, hiring, employee relations, compensation, training, orientation and career development.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The most enjoyable parts of the job for me are when I help an employee who is going through a difficult personal time; for example I deal with many employees when they are taking medical leaves. It is also enjoyable when I can offer a job to someone who is unemployed. These parts of the work make me feel good about what I do.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
The most challenging part of the job is dealing with difficult workplace issues. There are often very challenging problems to solve such as decisions on layoffs, or how to resolve a difficult working relationship between an employee and the supervisor.
Describe your typical work week. (How many hours you work, your work environment)
I typically work 50 hours per week in a standard office environment.
What job search methods did you use to obtain your current position?
I found this job by working as an independent consultant at Harvard University. I worked for various parts of the University in consulting roles, and then wanted a regular job. I found this particular job through the Universitys website.
What advice could you give to students interested in your field?
You have to care about people and enjoy constant interaction with others. There is a lot of problem-solving in this type of work, and it is often similar to doing social work in resolving problems in the workplace. I recommend doing an internship in a Human Resources office in order to get a true perspective of what HR is like. Join the Society for Human Resources Management. Get certified in this field to show your professional knowledge (PHR or SPHR certification.) Editorial Note: PHR and SPHR certification shows that the holder has demonstrated mastery of the HR body of knowledge and, through re-certification, has accepted the challenge to stay informed of new developments in the HR field.
Last Modified: October 20, 2004