Finding a New Home

PROVO, Utah – Jul 30, 2021 – Many college students leave behind the comforts of home when they head off to school. When Alexis Rankin arrived at BYU as a transfer student, she chose to give up the comforts of the career she grew up thinking she would pursue. Despite this big change, Rankin was able to attend student association meetings at the BYU Marriott School of Business, which helped her find a new career path as a human resource management (HRM) student.

Rankin began her college career at the University of Missouri, in her hometown of Columbia, Missouri, wanting to find a career that would help people. While initially interested in becoming a nurse, Rankin discovered that she did not enjoy the physical work of the nursing field or find the responsibilities all that exciting. However, while she was serving as the president of the University of Missouri’s Student Nurses’ Association, she found that she liked the organizational and leadership aspects of her role. These responsibilities allowed her to help people in a different and for her, more compelling way that piqued her interest in learning more about human resources.

After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rankin decided to transfer to BYU where she explored several new career options, including HRM. To learn more about the program, she attended a meeting for BYU Marriott’s National Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter, an association dedicated to helping college students transition into a career with human resources.

Now a senior, Rankin expresses gratitude to BYU Marriott for providing opportunities for pre-business students, like herself after she transferred, to attend association meetings in order to explore various fields and discover their passions. “When I attended my first SHRM meeting, the chapter leaders talked about how human resources helps people succeed, which struck me,” Rankin explains. “Helping people is what I always wanted to do, but I realized I wanted to do it in a business setting.”

After joining the HRM program, Rankin continued to take advantage of the opportunities BYU Marriott provides its students. During the fall 2020 semester, she participated in a BYU Marriott career fair, where she met with a manager from Cummins Inc., an engine and power generation company. After connecting with that company, Rankin landed her current internship where she is a leadership and development intern.

Rankin says BYU Marriott prepared her for her internship in meaningful ways beyond facilitating events such as the career fair. “My classroom experiences have given me the knowledge and tools—project development, problem analysis, and solution design for those problems—that I need to do well in this internship,” she explains.

In her current role at Cummins, Rankin is converting an in-person training course to an online learning module. She draws upon the principles she learned in her junior year HRM classes for the task. “My internship helps me see how I can take and apply to the real world the principles of implementing change within a company culture that I learned in class,” she says.

Rankin says the HRM program gives her opportunities to practice the skills she needs to facilitate change through group projects and experiential activities. “In every class I’m in, I work with a team of my peers for a few projects,” she explains. This practice is especially important for Rankin, as her work at Cummins is conducted almost exclusively in teams. “Learning how to take initiative when working with others helps me develop experience on how I can work in teams in the workforce,” she adds.

Rankin also develops her leadership skills through her continued involvement in SHRM, where she is now the vice president over professional development and events. The association that brought her to HRM continues to pay dividends as Rankin connects her role with SHRM with her internship at Cummins. “Being a SHRM vice president gives me a lot of experience in thinking about the needs of other students and what we as officers can do to help our members have a competitive advantage in the future,” she says. “That skill of understanding people’s needs translates into the workforce as understanding my employees allows me to help them develop the tools necessary for high job performance.”

After her graduation from BYU Marriott in April 2022, Rankin is excited to continue leading others. Her current goal is to receive a permanent full-time offer from Cummins and then work her way up the human resources ladder. Since she initially found her new career home in the HRM program out of a desire to organize and lead others, Rankin is grateful Cummins allows her to meet that goal in a positive way. “I never thought I’d be gung-ho about engines, but I see an amazing opportunity for growth and learning at Cummins,” she says. “Company culture is most important to me in my career, and I am excited to be at a place where I can help be a positive influence in building that culture.”

HRM senior Alexis Rankin. Photo courtesy of Alexis Rankin.
HRM senior Alexis Rankin. Photo courtesy of Alexis Rankin.
Rankin is grateful for the experiences she has had after transferring to BYU. Photo courtesy of BYU Marriott.
Rankin is grateful for the experiences she has had after transferring to BYU. Photo courtesy of Alexis Rankin.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller