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Personal and Professional Mentors

While reminiscing about the people who have helped me figure out what I want to do with my life, I’ve come to realize how many people have given me great advice. Most of this advice wasn’t in the form of a clear instruction to study any particular subject, or to work for any particular company, rather it was suggestions based on personal experiences that belonged to me or the mentor. Two groups of people stand out to me in particular, when identifying the most influential mentors I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. The first are my family, who have based most of their advice for me on what they already know about me. The second are the Human Resources professionals I’ve met along the way in my career, who have also given me great advice based on their own experiences of working in HR and their knowledge of corporate life. I think it’s worth exploring these two types of mentors, as they have provided me with very different but equally important advice.

Being a human resources professional myself, I think I’m very fortunate to have established relationships with other HR professionals early on in my career (even before I had decided to pursue HR). HR professionals are without a doubt, some of the best people to go to for career advice. They have helped me obtain a better understanding of corporate culture, career development, and what I need to do in order to advance my career in this profession.

One of my first HR Managers was also in the early stages of her career and had moved up to a managerial role fast. She gave me advice which I could identify with because she was a part of my generation and close to me in age, and she had a similar upbringing and education to me. One thing she said to me in regards to timelines really stood out. She advised not to stay in one position for longer than three to five years in the beginning of my career, as doing so may hinder career growth. Unless of course that particular company is offering ample opportunity for growth and development. All of the most valued pieces of advice I have received, including this one, are not written in a textbook, or taught by a school teacher.

HR professionals know a thing or two about corporate culture and organizational development. They can also give great insight in terms of what the life cycle for a particular job looks like in an organization. That’s why my HR coworkers have been great mentors in terms of figuring out next steps for a young professional in the field.

And then there is that HR mentor I have come across that is the best combination of coworker and friend. This is someone who recognized exactly what I’ve gone through because she’s been in my place. She understood the challenges a young HR professional faces, and acted as that go to person when I needed answers to questions I couldn’t ask my manager, because let’s face it, managers aren’t always the best people to go to for career advice.

However, the more I think about my main source of constant inspiration throughout my life, in relation to career decisions as well as personal drive, the more I realize how influential my family has been for me. I received mentorship from siblings and cousins primarily. While they were all five to fifteen years older than I, they have been able to inspire me with their own stories, and the hope they had for me.

The mentorship that my family members have provided me with has occurred all throughout my life. As they have observed my interests, hobbies, and all of my life experiences, they know me well, which has enabled them to recognize what I’m good at and when I’m most happy. This has proven to be extremely helpful and eye-opening when I felt I didn’t know the answers to these sorts of questions myself.

It has also been easier to trust the people who I have known all my life, have already established a bond with, and whose opinions I trust and respect. I often have discussions with a cousin of mine, reminiscing about the career aspirations I had for myself when I was younger, and the things that she recognized I had an interest in from an early age. Although at the time those seemed like far-fetched dreams, I realize now that I still wish for the same things, and have already been able to accomplish some of them. My cousin has helped me realize that even little achievements, such as taking small steps towards a larger goal, can really make a difference.

I’ve been so fortunate to have mentors in my life that have guided me throughout the years and have helped me achieve my career goals thus far. I think it’s important to recognize that having two types of discussions can be helpful in very different ways. Hearing about another persons journey can give us goals and a template to follow. Where as being able to discuss our own stories with another person can assist us in determining our own potential.

Summun is a young Human Resources professional, currently working as an HR Assistant for the City of Toronto. She has completed her HRM post-graduate certificate from Seneca College and has been working in the field for about three years. She developed an interest in blogging about anything from fashion, to pop culture, and HR from her time working for SHE Magazine Canada. 

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