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It seems odd and challenging to me to write a concluding essay. How does one summarize four years in four pages?

In reality, its impossible. No words can sufficiently encapsulate the late hours, the stresses, the highs and lows, and all the work that goes into completing a program of this nature. The only worthwhile option is to attempt to step back and look objectively and holistically at the last four years to assess if Ive achieved the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this program and what Ive learned during this process. I began the program somewhat naively. With the program being titled a M.Ed. in Training and Development, I didnt realize that the program would be so intensive in human resources development (HRD). That is explainable at least in part by the fact that the military doesnt have any personnel or departments given the title of human resources. We have an Inspector General whose office is responsible for investigating claims of discrimination or harassment and nearly all training is handled in-house by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who arent always professional trainers. Thus, the HR functions in the military are dispersed over multiple disconnected groups and the military equivalent of a civilian HR department is a foreign concept. Still, I did have a general idea of what to expect and, in that sense, I think the program has exceeded my expectations. To be honest, Ive never intended to be an HRD professional; I wanted to be a leader. Whether that was in the Air Force or the corporate sector or both, I wanted then and still want now to be one of those individuals in the upper echelons making the critical, organization-altering decisions. In my opinion, one of the most essential skills that a senior leader can possess is the ability to train and develop his personnel. Any supervisor will always have subordinates and just because that supervisor doesnt work in HRD specifically doesnt mean that he has any less responsibility to develop those subordinates and ensure they

are set up to succeed and progress in their career and in the company. Beyond that, executives must understand and be able to speak intelligently to the training programs within a company and to those personnel who develop and conduct these programs. I heard it mentioned multiple times in this program that billions of dollars are spent annually on training and that approximately 80% of all training initiatives fail to achieve their desired goals. In such a costconscious and profit-driven corporate environment, its amazing to me that companies are willing to throw money at a problem and hope it goes away instead of investing smartly and making the problem go away. When leaders can interact professionally and intelligently with their HR departments, then companies training resources are spent more wisely and effectively. Additionally, HRs unique position within corporations allows it to interact with every other department within a company. There are few ways, if any, that are better for quickly transmitting new, innovative ideas or initiatives than through effectively incorporating HRD into an overall corporate strategy. As I complete this program, I leave with a much greater knowledge of how human resources programs operate and I feel confident that when the time arises, I will be able to take this understanding of HR and employ it effectively to maximize the capabilities of the company for which I work. A smaller and more unique advantage of this program for me was that it introduced me to the civilian workforce. This probably seems ridiculous to the average person, but it was a powerful experience for me. In many ways, the military is its own animal. There are rules, regulations, traditions, and standards that are borne out of hundreds of years of trial and error and that have no civilian equivalent. To the average civilian, some of these ideas are completely foreign; to the average military member, theyre the very definition of normalcy. When one works within a particular segment of the military (e.g. the fighter aviation community) on a daily

basis, its easy to forget that less than 1% of the population serves in todays all volunteer US military and you are nothing but a subset of a subset. Working daily with civilians, even in a mostly asynchronous environment, gave me a different viewpoint on training, business decisions, and sometimes on life in general. It definitely impacted how I thought about talking to people, approaching disagreements, and offering constructive criticism. The brusque, take-no-prisoners approach of the military that requires a thick skin and offers little consideration for emotion isnt generally accepted or productive in the civilian world. Seeing different viewpoints, thinking about my views, and considering how to interact with others to produce positive results was valuable for me. I learned nearly as much through this informal education as I did through the formal classes. Throughout this final portfolio Ive exhibited some of my most important works from my time in the program and Ive emphasized the four themes that were most salient for me evaluation, collaborative or social learning, course development and analysis, and organizational change. While I cant begin to estimate or properly convey the increase in knowledge and skills Ive gained in this program, the examples seen in the Narratives section provide some indication of the growth Ive experienced. During my time in the Training and Development program at NC State, Ive created my own sample evaluation model, Ive re-written an AFROTC training manual, and Ive researched and read more studies than I can remember. Each of these projects, not to mention the myriad message board forum posts, has impacted me professionally and shaped my understanding of training, development, and the HR profession. Although Ive clearly learned a lot about HRD and feel more equipped to excel in the upper-level positions in which I hope to find myself, this last semester has afforded me a chance to reflect on all aspects of HRD, both positive and negative. I believe that if HR is to thrive in the

future, it must take a more multi-disciplinary approach and it must be proactive in promoting its place within the corporate structure. Human resources in the future cant be content to run training programs and enforce regulations. If it hopes to achieve its full potential and have a profound impact on organizations, HR professionals must have a basic background in economics, business, ecology, sociology, and other fields. In addition, they cant be expected to gain this knowledge through informal processes over years of experience. Human resources degree programs at major universities must offer a multi-disciplinary education to their students and prepare them to contribute and impact from day one on the job. Once this education is established, HR professionals must take advantage of their unique position within the company that grants them the opportunity to consistently interact with every department within a corporation. Human resource professionals must seek to influence employees at all levels of a company and serve as the conduit between the upper levels and lower levels that allows change to take place more rapidly and effectively in order to stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. As I approach the end of a higher education program in HRD during which many of my colleagues were HR professionals, these are two areas where I feel HR can improve and increase its value in the future. Executives wont generally seek out their HR department for advice on many matters. If HR wants to realize its maximum potential, it must go out of its way to be proactive and assertive in offering solutions and striving for change. In conclusion, its been a long, strange four years. Ive learned more than I could have imagined at the start, both formally and informally. I appreciate even more the value of training, especially when its conducted properly and evaluated to maximize its efficacy. I still dont think Ill ever be an HR professional, although one never knows. I will, however, always feel attached to HRD and appreciate the value it provides to a corporation. I hope to see HRD take its place as

an influential player in the corporate mainstream and become a difference-maker in corporate culture. My future is still uncertain, but what is certain is that the knowledge and skills gained in this program will guide me in the future and have a sincere impact on what I do and who I become.