CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Erica Hughes would be the first to tell you that one can go in any number of career directions with a bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration (HPA) from Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV).
“There are so many opportunities with an HPA degree. At first, it was tough for me to pick one field in health care,” said Hughes.
That was until the Fogelsville resident’s internship at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), which led to a job as a per diem member of its human resources department while she was completing her final semesters at PSU-LV.
Following graduation in 2019, Hughes was offered a full-time position with LVHN’s talent acquisition team. Since then, her role has continued to evolve, and she’s now a senior talent acquisition business partner charged with recruiting for Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital and serving as project lead for various expansion projects.
“Providing individuals with the opportunity to make a career change or to begin their professional career is the most rewarding thing for me,” Hughes said. “I have the opportunity to partner with hiring leaders, human resources colleagues, and network senior leadership to develop and implement recruiting strategies to support the growth-related staffing needs of the health network.”
As an HPA major at PSU-LV, Hughes found a program that allowed her to “tailor my education around the role I wished to pursue post-graduation,” she said. And she loved the fact that many of her professors “could relate the coursework to real-life situations they encountered in their professional career.”
Besides taking her courses and working, Hughes also found time to volunteer at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. There, she provided art and recreational activities for pediatric patients in the playroom and at their bedside.
“Having the opportunity to communicate with clinical staff and seeing their passion for providing the highest standard of quality care to the patients has helped me tremendously in my career. When it was time for me to complete my internship, I knew I wanted to complete it at Lehigh Valley Health Network,” Hughes said. “I loved volunteering in the clinical environment, but I wanted to explore ways where I could support the clinical teams from a nonclinical setting. As a result, I chose the human resources team as my internship specialty. During my internship, I had the opportunity to follow and learn from each department in human resources at LVHN.”
Another influential experience for Hughes was the time she spent as a career ambassador in PSU-LV’s Career Strategy office. “That was confirmation to me that I wanted to pursue a role as a recruiter,” she said.
This fall, Hughes participated in the Careers in HPA alumni panel hosted by the campus. There, she had the chance to share insights on her job with students — and give back to the campus.
“Penn State Lehigh Valley provided me with a great education where I utilize much of what I learned every day,” she said.