After graduating high school, Dani Stuhr struggled to answer the age-old question: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ “Like many people, I didn’t know the answer to that,” Stuhr admits.
While she knew she was interested in working with people, she wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like as a career. Stuhr also had a few other factors to consider when making her decision. “Flexibility in class offerings was important to me as I was paying for my own college education and I knew that I was going to have to work full-time while attending school,” she explains.
During her search, she came across the HR associate degree program at Western Technical College. “While HR does involve specialized knowledge, when it comes down to it, HR is all about people,” says Stuhr. “I had heard that Western offered hands-on learning, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to gain this kind of experience before starting my career.”
While pursuing her degree at Western, Stuhr simultaneously began an internship in Human Resources at Festival Foods. She didn’t know it at the time, but it was the start of a very successful career pathway at Festival. She moved up the ladder from intern, to HR Assistant, to HR Specialist, to HR Generalist, to HR Supervisor, to Regional HR Manager, to her current position as HR Assistant Director. “I started off by just filing papers, but it progressed to much more than that,” says Stuhr. “I was able to utilize the experience that I was gaining from my education and put it to use immediately.”
As a student, Stuhr thrived in the concentrated learning environment that Western provided. “A lot of my education and classes focused on learning that could be applied directly to an HR position,” she explains. “My courses were hands-on and we even got to work directly with employers in the community for some of our projects. I feel this helped me realize that HR was my career path while I was still in school versus hoping it was after I graduated. I don’t know if I would have figured out that HR was the right path for me without the great experience that Western offered me.”
Fast forward 11 years and Stuhr finds herself in what she considers to be the perfect career. “I love figuring out what makes people tick — what motivates them and their values and applying this to their work.”