Campus News

Work study leads staffer to career as human resources consultant

Parker Thomas, who is working toward a master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, also works in the Division of Finance & Administration as a team lead in position management in Human Resources. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

There are two things Parker Thomas loves most: helping others and being a Georgia Bulldog. Luckily for him, his job at the University of Georgia allows him to do both.

Thomas doubles as a graduate student at UGA and as a team lead in position management for Human Resources. He joined the Division of Finance & Administration in 2015 after attending UGA and earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. HR plays a critical role in the staff of the university, according to Thomas.

“Any time you’re looking to hire someone, it has to come through position management to get approved so we can help you achieve your goal,” he said.

The position management team works with departments across campus to determine what their hiring goals are and the types of positions they need to reach those goals. One reason Thomas likes his job is because he gets to learn more about research being conducted at UGA. 

“My job gives me the ability to see into the little windows of UGA,” he said. “We’re working with professors who are leaders in their fields. Being able to see this groundbreaking research on the front end and what type of person they need to do the research is awesome.”

Thomas also analyzes jobs across campus to classify them so that employees have the proper titles based on the work they do. He enjoys playing such a critical role in the university’s success.

“My favorite part is helping the university function effectively,” Thomas said. “If position management stopped, no one would get hired. We’d just halt. We’re kind of unsung heroes, like an extremely critical cog in the machine.”

Thomas had always wanted to attend UGA and loves that he is able to work for the university while continuing his studies.

“Georgia was just always the school that I wanted to go to,” said Thomas, who grew up in Gwinnett County. “I always liked Athens and just wanted to be a part of UGA’s culture and be a Bulldog.”

As an undergraduate, he worked for F&A’s Facilities Management Division, where he collaborated with Reginald Woods, the senior HR manager. Woods, he said, led him to work in human resources.

“He singlehandedly inspired my career,” Thomas said. “He introduced me to training and being able to see in people the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the impact you make on them. That’s when I realized I needed to go into a field where I could use my skills to help people.”

While working for Facilities Management, Thomas helped to host resume and job interview seminars for its employees and develop computer courses.

Today, he is working toward his master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology and graduates in August.

Industrial organizational psychology, Thomas said, has two components: statistics, or using data to make informed hiring decisions, and psychology, or how people are trained, motivated and engaged at work.

Thomas likes his job because it allows him to apply what he’s learning about IO to the real world.

“Everything I’m learning is directly applicable to what I do,” Thomas said. “The most applicable concept I’ve learned is being able to conduct job analysis. Everything you do has to be based on a valid job analysis, so I like being able to apply that.”

Thomas also likes working with his team.

“One of my favorite parts of working for UGA HR is being able to work with such a great team,” he said. “We try to always be positive and have fun at work, which makes coming to work exciting because I know that we get to work on some new innovative things each day.”

Wherever life takes him, Thomas plans to continue helping those around him.

“If I couldn’t help people, I don’t know if I would do this job,” he said. “That’s what keeps me coming to work. I innately want to help people and improve whatever aspect of their life I can touch.”