Mentorship is an invaluable resource that I am excited to say has influenced both my personal and professional development. Mentors stand out from other contacts, as they tend to have a long-term commitment to fostering a relationship. Mentorship can be formal, with a supervisor or colleague in the workplace, or informal, with a friend chatting over coffee – both can provide direction, support and opportunities for those involved. Over the years, I have had various mentors and each of the relationships have provided me with further insight into the field of HR and helped to increase my self-esteem. I am currently participating in a formal mentorship relationship with Elizabeth, and this is my story.
Elizabeth and I were matched through our local HRPA Chapter’s Mentorship Program. I was apprehensive at first about the anonymous matching process, and was unsure if I would be matched with someone who would be interested in my professional development and shared similar interests. As an entry-level HR professional, I was also fearful that I didn’t have enough professional experience to bring to the relationship – but I convinced myself to focus on the possible positive outcomes if I put 100% into the process. Often I find that my greatest learning experiences have come from situations that I initially fear.
Fast-forward six months, and I have had the opportunity to learn so much about the HR industry and myself. Elizabeth and I meet formally every other week and talk about industry trends, celebrate our individual successes and provide support and feedback for one another. We talk about everything – from issues that arise at work, changes in legislation or major events in our personal lives. In addition to meeting on a bi-weekly basis, Elizabeth and I attend networking events together, which has allowed us both to expand our personal networks.
Elizabeth has become more than a mentor. As an entry-level HR professional, I’ve come to see her as an invaluable part of my career journey. With this in mind, I often find myself speaking to students and new professionals about the value of getting involved and putting yourself out there. I can personally say that one of the best things that I have done is participate in a formal mentorship program.
If the opportunity arises to participate as a mentor or protégé, resist the urge to see it as a burden or another constraint on your free time. Instead, approach it as an opportunity to get to know someone on a personal and professional level, and create a mutually beneficial relationship – you never know what could come from it. Over time, and with some effort, you develop a partnership with someone who will become your biggest cheerleader and supporter. As our HRPA Chapter’s Mentorship Program begins to wind down, I find my bi-weekly meetings with Elizabeth bittersweet. I enjoy sharing a few hours a month together discussing our experiences and sharing stories. However, I’m certain that as my HR journey continues, my relationship with Elizabeth will continue to grow and have an impact on how I approach both my work and personal life.
If you remember one thing from this blog, it’s to not let your fear stand in between you and potential opportunity.