By Jacqueline Carpenter
Aaliyah Johnson is honest about the fact that she had no idea what she wanted to do professionally when she first walked through the doors of RCIPS Headquarters seven years ago as a student intern from CIFEC. “At that point the most direction I had was a curiosity about working in forensics, but I also knew I could never handle the gooey stuff,” she smiles. “I was really unclear about what I wanted, but that also made me really open.”
Even though Aaliyah, a native of North Side, didn’t know her field quite yet, she did know the type of worker she was. “I have always been a get-it-done person, reliable and hardworking,” she explains, “I like to take care of things with little fuss.”
This was the kind of person the RCIPS Human Resources and Professional Development Department, which was understaffed at the time, was really in need of. Not long into her internship, Aaliyah was helping the HR manager generate employment letters and update personnel files while managing reception. In 2013 she was hired full-time as the receptionist in Headquarters, and her exposure to the breadth of the human resources field only grew until she was promoted to Human Resources Officer in December 2017.
“What I discovered about human resources is that it is the heart of any organization, and that there is so much we are responsible for – recruitment, health and benefits, leave management, contracts. Each of these can be complex in its own way and requires expertise,” Aaliyah observed, “so when the opportunity came to get more qualified, I knew that I should take it.”
Aaliyah applied for and received a scholarship through the Portfolio of the Civil Service (PoCS) to enrol in a certificate program in HR Management through the University of Portsmouth. In November 2018 she graduated from the program with several other CIG civil servants.
“Having the certificate gives me confidence, but so does the experience I gain every day in our busy HR department serving nearly 500 employees. During my time with the RCIPS I have had the opportunity to deal with sensitive personnel situations, and this has built my confidence in dealing with people and having an in-depth understanding of HR procedures.”
Aaliyah’s specific role in the RCIPS HR Department is to manage Health and Benefits queries, and as part of her work she sometimes interacts with as many as ten officers or civilians each day, some of whom are former employees. She takes pride in knowing that her work is necessary for these employees to access their entitlements, which some of them may urgently need.
“Though the work itself is interesting, what I enjoy most about it are the interactions I get to have with people,” says Aaliyah, “and that I have the ability to help them.”
The confidence and purpose Aaliyah has found professionally has spread to other areas of her life, emboldening her to put herself forward in the areas of writing and drawing, which have always come naturally to her. She now helps friends and colleagues with their resumes, and has also started developing and sharing her graphic designs.
“At some point I said to myself, ‘Ok, I can do this’ and started giving writing advice and brainstorming logos for businesses,” she explains, “I like to make people look good, and I know that I can.”