Although the department is still in its infancy, Christina Centeno is working hard to ensure that Missouri Southern’s training program offers a full range of services for students and faculty.

The university recently welcomed Centeno – a senior majoring in general studies with a minor in human resources – as the new human resources training specialist. 

Christina Centeno recently joined Missouri Southern as the a human resources training specialist.

Christina Centeno recently joined Missouri Southern as the a human resources training specialist.

“The transition has been interesting,” Centeno says. “It’s been difficult because this is a really new department. Everything we’re doing right now is brand new, so we’re trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t work, and what people seem to like.”

Centeno works alongside her intern, Meredith Murray, within the new department. One focus is on the idea of student employee training. They want student employees to receive similar knowledge and training as the other faculty and staff, including information on sexual harassment, diversity and customer service.

Also important is their effort to reach out to faculty and staff members.

In an attempt to connect with the faculty and staff, the department offers monthly brown bag presentations on varying topics. The presentations are followed up by an email that contains a concise compilation of information on the topic of the month. In November, the presentation featured fire safety instructions to prevent faculty and staff members from accidentally burning down their houses during Thanksgiving. They plan to gear each topic toward faculty and staff and include information on different software and programs to assist the other departments.

The department also holds occasional training events, such as informational courses on Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and other programs. Future plans include adding events in such areas as  investing, safety and some additional human resource topics. A survey of the campus will be going out early this year to gather data on what training they would like to see offered in the coming months.

“The most important thing to remember while training someone is that they may have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” Centeno says. “You always have to get back into the mindset that at one point, you didn’t know this either, and try to remember what it felt like to be completely lost looking at an Excel worksheet.”

A recent training session offered by the department focused on the A.L.I.C.E. training offered by the University Police Department, which teaches students, faculty and staff how to respond to an on-campus threat. Centeno said the training received a positive response from those who participated.

“Now more than ever is this kind of training important,” she says.

Centeno and her intern research and gather extensive information before planning their training events.

They pull material from surveys they give out at the end of each event, successful programs offered by other universities and websites that feature tips and tricks for programs.

“I’m sometimes amazed at how much is out there,” Centeno says.

The remodeled training room in Spiva Library has proven ideal for the HR programs. The remodeling project was done in collaboration with the library and the room is utilized by both departments.

“It’s been totally revamped with all new computers and projectors, and divided up into two different areas,” says Centeno. “They really put a lot into it. It’s what we use for our training sessions.”

Because each training event is only an hour long, she is only able to go over the most important parts of each program, leading to the creation of their SharePoint site. They share information about programs that aren’t covered in class. Tips and tricks are uploaded to the server with pictures and instructions to guide the user. The site is open to every university employee.

Centeno worries that because her department is so new, it is difficult for the campus to know about the training events and other services that are offered. She urges faculty members to log on to SharePoint and to take advantage of the training sessions.

“This is the first year of existence for this department,” says Centeno, “so right now we’re building our role within the university.”