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This past weekend I delivered a training seminar at McMaster University. As always the students had many questions, but one stood out. A second year student sheepishly asked myself and my co-presenter – “How can I ever hope to become just like the two of you?”.
How do you respond to that? I couldn’t figure out what was so special about us at all. However, to this young student, nervous about the future ahead of him, the years of experience we had gained in the working world and how that experience had shaped and molded us made a strong impression.
I hadn’t imagined the impact sharing my experience could have. I mentor many students through an organization called AIESEC and I knew that the students found real life work experience examples valuable. But I think I underestimated the power of giving back.
During the drive home I thought about the time not many years ago that I was the nervous student. Unsure if I would be prepared for the real world when it came. We often think about personal development as self driven, and for the most part it is. At the same time, personal development can be multiplied exponentially when we are connected to others who inspire us.
As professionals today we hold enormous power to shape the coming generation and help guide and develop them. To pass on skills they’ll need to succeed.
Who Influenced Me As A Student
At the University of Windsor, I had two major influences that shaped my personal development and leadership style.
I can narrow it down to four individuals who probably had more of an impact on my development than any others. Dr. Allan Conway, Dean at The Odette School of Business, Barbara Barone, Internal/External Relations Officer, Dr. Dave Bussiere, then a professor of Marketing, and Bob Renaud, Executive in Residence.
These individuals all gave me their time, their guidance, and their experience without asking anything in return. They made my experience in University a transformative one – not simply an academic one. I doubt any of them understand how powerful an impact their mentorship had on my development, but I would not be who I am today without them.
The other transformative experience was through AIESEC International. AIESEC is a global student association that has two elements. One is a 5 stage self driven leadership and personal development experience. The second is a global internship placement abroad (I worked in Morocco for two months, but placements last anywhere from 2 to 18 months). My time in AIESEC gave me hands on leadership experience in a global context that no textbook could.
Why Life is More than Academia.
Are you Recruiting the Full Meal Deal?
Last month at the Recruiting Innovation Summit I had the pleasure of listening to Lauren Friese from TalentEgg.ca deliver a presentation on recruiting GenY. Lauren talked about recruiting in Canada focusing heavily on students who achieved top grades in class, but these students often sacrificed life experience to get it. What impact would this have on companies as students could recite textbooks but potentially would struggle to make decisions that affected real people when moved into leadership positions? Assessing a student’s personal development, maturity, leadership style and experience is all much more difficult then assessing their grades – a simple metric that tells us very little about someone.
As recruiters, I think we do a disservice to our organizations when we focus to strongly on pure academics.
My Recruiting Solution:
Get involved on campuses. Give back to student organizations and see the impact you can have on young people first hand. It will make you a better recruiter, and in my experience – you will always get back more than you put in. You might just get a fantastic future hire out of it! But, at the end of the day, mentors have the most impact when they are involved to GIVE not GET.