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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2023 Features

Molly Olney Seeks To Make the World a Better Place

By Becky Kramer
I want to make the world a better place, and I feel I can do that through my career in HR.
– Molly Olney
Courtesy Molly Olney

Molly Olney enjoys helping people bring their best selves to the game. She started developing those skills as captain of her high school lacrosse team, helping resolve conflicts between other players. She continued honing those skills at the Carson College of Business, where she majored in management with a human resource focus.

“I’m passionate about HR because I’m passionate about helping people,” says Olney, who graduated in May. “I want to make the world a better place, and I feel I can do that through my career in HR.”

With a knack for organization and an outgoing personality, Olney says she often finds herself in leadership roles. At WSU, her confidence in managing people, negotiating, delegating, and building teams developed through her classes and extracurricular activities.

Developing leadership

During her senior year, Olney was president of WSU’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She got involved in the club’s leadership through the encouragement of Ron Moser, scholarly associate professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship.

After a stint as the club’s secretary, Olney decided to run for president. “Ron Moser helped prepare me for the role,” she says. “He encourages students to try new things and push the boundaries of their comfort zones.”

In the role of SHRM president, Olney and her team worked on growing attendance at meetings, advertising events, and bringing in engaging speakers. She also had a chance to interact with the college’s National Board of Advisors, expanding her HR network through the two board members who mentored her— Jon Morgan and Tanya Platt.

As part of The Next Carson Coug program, undergraduates are encouraged to participate in clubs to develop skills in leadership, communication, and professional networking.

“Having mentors was one of the best things about being in the SHRM Club,” Olney says. “My mentors helped me with my professional development, especially when applying for internships and jobs.”

Morgan and Platt helped her with mock interviews, networking, and insights into career paths available in HR. They were also resources for class projects and her work as SHRM president.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding and a great learning experience,” Olney says of her term as club president. “You know when you see someone in a role and you think, ‘I could do that,’ but it’s more challenging than you initially realize.”

Growing academically

Olney lists a course in negotiations skills among her favorite management classes. She and classmates worked in teams to practice negotiating complex cases. One scenario they worked on involved a property purchase involving water rights and development issues.

“After taking the class, I felt prepared to participate in a business negotiation and make strategic decisions,” she says.

An HR conference for students in Spokane helped her appreciate how well her Carson College experience had prepared her to work in the HR field.

“The conference sessions all had information we had covered in class,” Olney says. “My college experience set me up to succeed in the HR world and set myself apart.”

Olney also credits WSU’s Honors College for stretching her academically. Her senior honors thesis researched how impostor syndrome influences work efficacy and performance.

“I’ve always done well in school,” she says, “but conducting a study, analyzing the results, and learning to write in a research style challenged me at a different level.”

Staying involved

Olney says her WSU Regents Scholarship, which was awarded over four years, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree without debt. She also received awards from her sorority, credit union, and a lacrosse organization.

Having the financial support helped Olney make the most of her WSU experience, allowing her to get involved in leadership and extracurricular activities. Besides serving as SHRM president, she was also active in leadership through her sorority, Kappa Delta.

“I was so happy and thankful when I found out I was receiving the scholarships,” Olney says. “I hope one day I will be able to sponsor a scholarship and give back.”

Her scholarships also allowed her to do summer internships instead of gravitating toward the highest-paid summer job. After her sophomore year, Olney interned at Heritage Wealth Advisors on Mercer Island, working in both client services and HR. She spent the next summer as an HR operations intern at McKinstry in Seattle.

Olney plans to work in Chicago as a recruiter. “After graduating, I wanted the challenge of moving to a different part of the country and establishing a career in a new city,” she says.

She plans to stay involved with the college as a “friend of the board” for the National Board of Advisors.

“I’m so proud to be a Carson Coug,” Olney says. “I found a lot of joy in leadership and helping people, but I wasn’t sure how it could translate into a career. The Carson College provided me with the pathway.”