HR professionals exchanging a handshake

Jason Gaddy headshot


When Jason Gaddy began undergrad at UTC in 2016, he didn’t have his heart set on a specific degree program. All Jason knew was that he enjoyed interacting with people and getting to know them on a personal level. Based off those desires, he chose to pursue a degree—and career—in human resources. After serving as a City of Chattanooga’s Office of Multicultural Affairs intern in 2019, he became the organization’s part-time HR project assistant temp, which turned into a full-time HR admin specialist job. Although he is in the beginning stages of his career, Jason’s drive has already propelled him toward success. He passed the SHRM exam before finishing UTC’s SHRM Certification Exam Prep course! 


Marah: What led you to pursue SHRM certification, especially so early in your career? 

Jason: I knew that having the certification on my resume would give me a competitive advantage. I also wanted to prove to myself that I knew what I was talking about when it comes to HR. Additionally, I served as the VP of UTC’s SHRM student chapter, so I was very familiar with SHRM and SHRM Chattanooga. I felt that SHRM was the best HR certification to go after. 


M: What were your interactions with the instructor like? 

J: I had Todd for one of my undergrad classes before I took the exam prep course. He does a good job of connecting with his audience. He knows when to keep going and when to stop and allow questions. He constantly stayed after class to talk more in-depth with students who had questions—not just about the lecture, but about other aspects of HR as well as life. Todd is a great instructor.  


M: How did you prepare for the SHRM certification exam? What advice would you give someone who is currently preparing for the exam? 

J: I viewed the test similarly to how one would view the ACT or SAT. You don’t know how you’re going to perform, but it’s best to get as much exposure to the test and its structure as possible.  The SHRM Learning System, the SHRM Body of Knowledge, and the flashcards helped me get more familiar with the exam questions. I recommend using all these tools as you prepare for the exam. I also found it helpful that my education was in my back pocket as I am just finishing up school this semester. Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t take the exam; in fact, there are advantages to taking the exam early on in your career! 


M: What are course topics that you found particularly interesting or enjoyable to learn about? 

J: Benefits. While benefits were briefly covered in my undergrad studies, there’s a LOT to that topic. The course helped expose me to many of the general concepts of benefits and the benefits companies can offer. I also found the strategic planning component of the course to be interesting. I paid deep attention to strategic planning because not only does it apply to HR but also to my personal life. Hearing Todd review strategic planning competencies helped me grasp the information and learn that strategic planning isn’t just top-level. He helped me see that you can do it for your team or for yourself as well! 


M: What is an important lesson you learned while in the SHRM Certification Exam Prep course? 

J: Get to know the people that you encounter while on your journey. Networking is beneficial because you never know how you can help one another out down the road. Doing so also hones your interpersonal skills, which are extremely important. My class was so diverse. There were participants who had been in HR for decades going for their SHRM-SCP and participants who were brand new to the field. Getting to meet and network with such a diverse group of people was extremely beneficial. 


M: Is there anything else you would like to share about your SHRM Certification Exam Prep experience? 

J: I had a great time in the exam prep class. I appreciated that we weren’t just listening to Todd lecture the entire time but that we were constantly being engaged with.  


Marah Whitaker headshot

Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.

Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.