Last Thursday morning, I was plopped in a chair at the business administration building at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. No, I haven’t decided to return to school. But I have decided to get involved with our student chapter. Why? Because they need it.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was a recent graduate. Fresh from the college experience, I searched dutifully for my first HR position. Since we’re all professionals here, I’ll go ahead and say it: it’s pretty darn hard to get your first job in HR. Most jobs require experience, and experience only comes after you get a job. It’s a catch-22.
Anyway, back to the student chapter. They need some leadership. They need some mentoring. Because while some of them may have experience as interns, not every company treats their entry level workers as they should. And they are going to be the next generation of HR professionals.
It doesn’t take much time. Get in touch with your local SHRM chapter. Find out if you can mentor a student, speak at a student chapter meeting, or even act as the liaison between the professional and student chapters. Decide how much time you have to spare and go for it. I guarantee it will make you proud of your profession.
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We can all learn from someone
I apologize for the problem with the post this morning. Issues have been fixed. If you see anything that’s not working correctly, let me know. Thanks!
Whether purposefully or not, leaders are mentors. As the term “leaders” implies, they are usually at the forefront of the action. And the younger and/or less experienced people in the workforce look to them for guidance. What exactly is a mentor? Well, Dictionary.com gives us this short and sweet rendition:
Mentor-a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
You can mentor someone on purpose. There are formal programs that have well-developed strategic plans and goals for these relationships. You can also mentor someone informally through your daily actions. You might not even know that you’re being observed, but leaders are hard to ignore.
Want a chance to be a mentor or a mentee? Consider starting a mentor program in your organization or in your local area. Even if it’s a group of two (mentor and mentee), it’s still worth the effort if both parties have clear expectations and “feed” the relationship regularly. And if you prefer not to start your own, then check out the mentor program that NASHRM has put together.
Have tips for developing a mentor program or on how to get the most out of the relationship? Leave a comment below so everyone can learn from your experience.
This person is probably an intern.
We all know how much fun it is to laugh at the TV versions of interns. They scurry to-and-fro, trying valiantly to rise above their lowly rank, but they end up with the short end of the stick all too often. I’m willing to bet that people wouldn’t laugh nearly as much if they looked at the interns not as “get me a cup of coffee” gophers, but as the future leaders of the company.
After all, are internships created so a company can get free labor? I should hope not. The intern experience should be a rich addition to a formal education plan. And while the company does get the benefit of inexpensive labor, they shouldn’t necessarily take advantage of the intern’s willingness to do anything for experience.
I was speaking recently with Nancy Woolever, the SHRM Director of Education. When I mentioned the topic of internships, she quickly brought up several points about how important it is to treat interns properly. We both agreed that internships are an excellent method to help college students transition into an entry level career after college, but many companies either don’t utilize interns in their own organizations or don’t treat their young staff as well as they should.
So… Now the ball’s in your court. Are your interns sitting around taking up space, or are they engaging in projects that will have a lasting impact on your business? That answer, my friends, is up to you. Have a comment?