SHRM Emerging Professional Champions: William W. Spencer III, SHRM-CP

Andrew Deichler By Andrew Deichler February 25, 2021
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SHRM Emerging Professional Champions: William W. Spencer III, SHRM-CP

​As part of an effort to recognize the next generation of human resource leaders, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is naming students, alumni and others who work on behalf of emerging professionals as SHRM Emerging Professional Champions. This week, we're looking at William W. Spencer III, SHRM-CP, human resources generalist II for Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT).

An alumnus of the University of Tennessee's (UT's) Haslam College of Business in Knoxville, Spencer originally intended on a career in biology. He had always had an interest in human anatomy and science. However, once he started taking classes, he got a bit of a wake-up call. "I took my first biology class, and it was a lot more difficult than high school biology classes," he said. "I did fairly well in it just because I was so passionate about the subject, but it ate up a lot of my time."

Not content to give up his social life and extracurricular activities—Spencer had just joined a fraternity and was involved in the Student Leadership Council—he began to explore other majors. He was looking for something that fit his personality, would allow him to absorb the full college experience and could provide a clear career path after school was over. He found all that in HR. "I think it resonated with me because I'm a people person," he said. "And I really wanted to have that social aspect of college; I really wanted to interact with other people. I think it's definitely a great major for individuals that are interested in that kind of college experience."

Spencer knew he made the right decision during his junior year when it came time to choose a concentration and he went with international business. He had always wanted to study abroad, which was a requirement for his concentration. Additionally, he describes himself as being fascinated by other cultures, and HR gave him the opportunity to help organizations bring greater diversity into the workplace.

Also in his junior year, Spencer became involved with his SHRM student chapter. He took on a number of chapter positions throughout his academic career, ultimately being named president in his senior year.

Working closely with the chapter advisor, Debbie Mackey, SHRM-SCP, distinguished lecturer at UT, Spencer acquired an internship at IDT after graduating in 2018. He helped manage IDT's robust internship program, which the defense contractor uses as a pipeline for full-time hires.

"Pending good performance, it's typical that a lot of our interns receive a full-time offer after the conclusion of their internship," Spencer said. "And that was what happened in my case, as well as multiple other interns. My roommate is actually an individual that I interned with in the summer of 2018."

While interning at IDT, Spencer also took the time to earn his SHRM certification. He encourages students to consider sitting for the exam after finishing their undergraduate degrees. While it may be tempting to take a long break before doing any more studying, earning the certification immediately helps a job seeker stand out among other candidates.

"If you're certified by a very prominent HR organization, it just adds to your reputation and shows that you're able to understand multiple HR functions," Spencer said. "It shows that if you join an HR department, people can trust you and won't have to look over your shoulder to make sure you're doing things right."

Do you know an outstanding SHRM student leader? How about a former SHRM student member who is achieving great success professionally? Or maybe a SHRM professional member, student chapter advisor or professional chapter that is advancing student membership and emerging professional programming? Nominate them as a SHRM Emerging Professional Champion today.

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