How to Cultivate Your Professional Development from Day One



Congratulations! You’ve finished that degree program, wrapped up your amazing internship, and have made it through the rounds of resume writing and interviews to land your first professional human resources position. While you start to get in the swing of things and apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real world situations, many of us start to wonder, what’s next? How do we continue to add new skills to our professional toolbox? While there is no “one size fits all” solution, try a few different tactics to see what is most effective for your personal situation.

Connect with Your Professional Tribe

You’ve already taken the first step by exploring the resources available to you from SHRM! Professional organizations are one of the best ways to identify options for further education and development in your specific area of HR expertise. It may feel intimidating to discuss joining a professional organization with an employer, but often this demonstrates a drive to succeed and a dedication to professional excellence. Your employer may offer support such as membership fees or allowing time out of the office to attend events and conferences. Connecting with your industry’s professional association early in your career, both on a national and local level will start you out of the gate already ahead of the pack.

Become the Queen (or King) Bee of Networking

Joining both the national and your local chapter of SHRM will open a floodgate of access to webinars, development conferences, and scholarship opportunities, but don’t stop there. Take this resource one step further and attend every local event that you can to meet HR professionals in your region. These connections can prove to offer insight on challenges you encounter, provide mentorship, and even shine light on volunteer opportunities where you can hone specific skill sets. You never know who someone may be connected to, so don’t be shy in developing meaningful relationships with connections you meet both locally and at national events.

Open Your Mind to Unexpected Opportunities

A common theme when discussing how individuals joined the HR field was how they simply “fell” into it.  While that volunteer position with your local young professionals group may not seem connected to developing your human resource skills now, you’ll be amazed to see the ways these special projects and volunteer opportunities can circle back to demonstrating the right ability to the right person – sometimes one who is looking to add someone with your talent to their team. Whenever you can and when it aligns with your professional goals – get involved!

These tips are a great place to start when navigating the early stages of your career; however, as a final piece of guidance – don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support. Experienced, senior leaders can seem intimidating to connect with, but from my own experiences and observations, people in our industry are eager to help cultivate the young professionals of tomorrow.






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