Sprawled out on the floor playing with K’NEX as a child, Josh Morris (BCom, ’15) imagined a dream job in architecture.
“I didn’t really know what it was,” he admits. “I just thought that architects are these cool, creative people that design fancy buildings for people to live and work in.”
An educational partnership between his high school and an oil and gas engineering firm allowed him a chance to preview a related career. He and another student worked on a gas vessel that was fabricated in China and destined for Iraq — they even had the opportunity to travel to China as 15-year-olds to see it. However, after much thought, he realized that he wasn’t as into the actual work as he thought he would be.
No matter — it gave him a crucial question to consider when working with job applicants in what turned out to be a rewarding career as a human resources advisor: “Does this person actually want to be in this type of job or do they just want the lifestyle that they think comes with the job?”
Q. What makes you passionate about working in human resources?
I like taking the opportunity to enable people to do their jobs really well to help the organization reach its goals. You’re helping to select the right person for the role, provide training opportunities, and hope that they become a high-performing individual so you can see them through development and promotions. But you’re also there when times are not so good, like during terminations, poor performance reviews or if they need to take a leave of absence due to a personal situation. To me, there is something rewarding about being someone who can help navigate those difficult work situations. I’m really passionate about that part of the job.
Q. When you were a student, you managed to grow the MacEwan Human Resources Club (MHRC) from two to 20 members — how did you manage that?
There were more people involved when I started in the club, but then everyone else graduated and there were only two of us left. A game-changer for us was creating job descriptions for each of our executive positions. Rather than getting students to put up a hand to volunteer as treasurer or vice-president, we had them apply and go through a pretty rigorous interview process. By framing these volunteer positions in a more professional way, we found that our executive team was that much more successful in running the club. Plus, we were able to add interviewing to our resumes when it came time for us to apply for jobs.
Q. Why is mentoring important to you?
I was really lucky early on when I got a mentor through the HR Club. We randomly got matched up, and I’ve had this mentor for seven years now. Having a mentor helps guide people along. Especially after graduating — my mentor was only seven years out of school ahead of me, so I found it a bit easier to understand and relate, versus someone who has been in the industry for a long time.
So right after I graduated, I tried to stay involved and mentor others, and now it’s nice that I get to take on more formal roles like being on the Alumni Advisory Council.
Ten Thousand Coffees program connects MacEwan students and alumni
Networking, mentorship and career advice over a cup of coffee
Knowing that my mentee hasn’t yet learned the lessons that I have. Like trying to get their first job out of university. It’s really easy to say, “Keep your chin up, keep going!” When in reality, it can be really difficult and discouraging to keep applying for roles and not get anything. I have to make sure that I remember how I felt when I was in that mentee’s shoes.
It's easy to just give advice and tell my mentee what they should do, but it’s even more challenging to ask them what they think they should do. Enabling them to go through their own thought process as opposed to providing them the answers is much more effective.
Q. What attracted you to being on the Alumni Advisory Council?
A lot of really successful people come from MacEwan and do really important work in the community. I think MacEwan alumni are a really humble group, and we need to be more confident in telling our stories. Increasing the profile of what MacEwan graduates can accomplish will help increase the profile of the school, and that can only be more beneficial for myself and other graduates going forward.
Q. What’s your most vivid MacEwan memory?
It was asking my now wife Amanda out on a date. I can remember how I felt. I know exactly where she was sitting (Building 5 on the second floor, the table sharing a wall with the south study area) and I remember standing there awkwardly, trying to look cool. I remember the feeling after she said yes, walking away feeling super excited. Everything about it. And the funny thing was, we were both so busy with school, work and volunteering that we had to look at our calendars to schedule our first date.
New Alumni Advisory Council represents MacEwan University's 75,000 graduates
Alumni have gone on to become passionate community members, industry leaders and game changers.
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