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Darla Moore School of Business

Alumna, former middle school teacher translates teaching skills to human resources career

Image of Krista Wessinger

Moore School alumna Krista Wessinger (’16 MHR) decided to shift her career path and pursue a Master of Human Resources after teaching for three years in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

“I was a seventh grade English/language arts teacher when I decided to get my Master of Human Resources,” Wessinger said. “For me personally, teaching was not the right fit, and I knew I needed a career change.”

When Wessinger’s mother told her about the Moore School’s MHR program, Wessinger said she felt like it would be a great opportunity to utilize the skills that she gained from teaching in another field.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to my mom, who actually found the program and thought it would leverage my skills from my education experience, but it also might provide me the kind of career path and growth trajectory that I was looking for,” she said. “After doing some research of my own, I felt that the Master of Human Resources was the best investment in my own future.”

After further researching the MHR program, Wessinger said the location, world-class faculty, top organizations that recruit from the program and the statistics on job placement rates stood out to her. Within 90 days of graduation, 100 percent of MHR graduates were placed in full-time roles.

“On top of the many program credentials, from a personal standpoint, a huge benefit was access to this phenomenal post-graduate HR program that was close enough to home so as not to be disruptive to my spouse, who had just gotten his first assistant principal job,” she said.

Once enrolled in the MHR program, Wessinger realized that so many of the skills that she gained from teaching were transferable to the human resources field. She said some of the overlapping skills included teamwork and collaboration, tailoring a message for a specific audience, thinking through the lens of your “end user,” establishing relationships and effective communication.

“Many teachers also have experience and training in psychology, social justice and equity and working with students with differing abilities,” she said. “The knowledge and skills in these areas are incredibly transferable to an organization, in both the HR generalist and HR specialist spaces.”

Since graduating from the Master of Human Resources program in 2016, Wessinger has been able to directly apply these skills as both an HR business partner and in her current role as a human resources manager for PepsiCo in Talent Management & Development.

In this role, Wessinger feels as though she is challenged on a daily basis and has the opportunity to make an impact through her work.  

“Sometimes, your work can impact an individual, and it’s just like watching the ‘lightbulb’ go off for a student,” she said. “Other times, you’re working on a solution that is going to impact tens or hundreds or thousands of people in your organization — and that’s a great feeling, too.”

As she reflects on her transition into human resources, Wessinger said she is glad she made the switch to a field that is better suited for her passions.

“As I think about the future of my career, I’d love to be leading and developing an HR team in 5-10 years, likely in the HR business partner space — although, now that I’ve spent the past two roles in a specialist function, I try not to rule anything out,” she said. “While I know I’d like to be an HR leader in an organization, I am still exploring what that might look like.”

-Claire McGrath 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.