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Mentorship in SHR

By Barbara Trujillo

April 9, 2024

Barbara Trujillo

Have you ever wondered what bridges the gap between potential and progress? Sir Isaac Newton famously said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the power of mentorship. Mentors, with their experience, guide and support us, opening doors to unseen opportunities and propelling us forward. They help us recognize possibilities beyond our own vision, offering invaluable support to propel us towards progress. They’ve navigated the twists and turns of their chosen field, and their insights can help us avoid common pitfalls and identify hidden opportunities. This translates into a faster learning curve, a boost in confidence as we tackle challenges, and the ability to make informed decisions that align with our long-term goals. In essence, mentorship bridge the gap between our potential and progress, empowering us to reach our full potential and shape a fulfilling career path.

The SHR Center is passionate about fostering a strong mentorship culture. It is understood that mentorship is not a one-way street; it’s a reciprocal relationship that requires investment, transparency, planning, and, most importantly, encouragement. For many years, I wore the hat of a mentor. As an educator and private college consultant, I had the privilege of guiding countless students and colleagues through their academic and workplace journeys. I reveled in sharing my experiences, offering insights, and witnessing their growth. It was a time-consuming endeavor, of course, but the rewards were immeasurable. Transparency was key. I didn’t shy away from sharing my own career stumbles and the lessons learned along the way. By opening a window into my professional life, I fostered trust and created a safe space for mentees to ask questions and be vulnerable about their own challenges.

Planning was also crucial. Structured meetings with clear goals ensured that both the mentee and I made the most of our time together. Whether it was discussing career and school goals, navigating a challenging workplace dynamic, or crafting a compelling resume, I ensured our sessions were focused and productive.

However, most importantly, I learned the power of encouragement. We all need that cheerleader in the corner, someone who believes in our potential even when we doubt ourselves. As a mentor, a pat on the back, a timely word of praise, or a simple “you can do this” went a long way in fueling my mentees’ confidence and motivation. Sometimes that’s all it took to gain the motivation needed to take the next steps in the journey.

Fast forward a few years, and the tables have turned. I find myself back in the classroom, pursuing a specialized graduate-level education. The student in me is always seeking out mentorship. While the dynamics are different, the core principles remain the same. I actively seek mentors who possess the qualities I valued when offering guidance – transparency, planning, and most importantly, encouragement. It comes in many forms – professors, administrators and peers.

The SHR Center at UW-Madison is uniquely positioned to foster a thriving mentorship ecosystem. They connect talented students and alumni with industry veterans, creating a powerful synergy. We offer formal mentorship programs that pair students and alumni with experienced HR professionals. These programs provide structure and support for a successful mentoring relationship. Throughout the year, we host networking events that bring together students, alumni, and industry partners. These events provide a platform for organic mentorship connections to flourish. We are given access to online platforms that allow users to create profiles, set goals, and connect with potential mentors based on shared interests and career aspirations. As students, we are incredibly grateful for access to programs like MBA Exchange.

Mentorship is an investment – an investment in time, energy, and a willingness to share your knowledge and experiences. But the returns are substantial. As mentors, we witness growth, ignite passion, and help shape the future of the HR profession. As mentees, we gain invaluable insights, navigate career challenges with confidence, and discover new possibilities on our professional journey.

Whether you’re an alum, an industry partner, or a friend of the SHR Center, I hope you consider becoming a part of our vibrant mentorship community. As Sir Isaac Newton reminds us, by standing on the shoulders of giants, we can all reach new heights. Let’s work together to elevate the next generation of MBA leaders.