Leader in the Spotlight: Jennifer Black, Post-Graduate in HR Management & Entrepreneurial Youth Programs Coordinator
For July’s Leader in the Spotlight feature, we are featuring Jennifer Black. Jennifer obtained an anthropology degree from Laurier University and has a human resources post-graduate certificate. She is a Youth Programs Coordinator, a role in which she guides young entrepreneurs in starting and running their businesses. Read on to find out, amongst other things, her advice for rural students moving to a city, and how she decided to earn a post-graduate in Human Resources.
Since you grew up in a rural setting, you are the ideal mentor for rural students adjusting to life in a city. What advice would you give to someone who is moving from a rural area to a city? Also, let’s turn it the other way around: What advice would you give a city-dweller moving to the country?
My advice can be applied to both situations: Try everything you can, as soon as you can! Whether it’s riding public transit for the first time, or eating at an exotic restaurant, just do it! The sooner you do new things, and the more new things you do, the sooner you will be comfortable with them.
As an entrepreneur, what would you do right now with a million dollars?
If I had a million dollars in my hands right now, as an entrepreneur I would divide the money between paying off existing debts, and using the rest to invest into both the future of my career and my personal life. I.e. Gain professional certifications, put a down payment in on a house etc. Even though I won’t have any shiny new things immediately, doing this helps ensure I have two million in my hands this time next year.
Your current work involves helping youth start and run their own businesses. What’s the most interesting business you’ve seen so far?
I have seen so many fantastic businesses.The most interesting always involve passion on the businessperson’s part. No matter what the type of business they’ve gotten to, if they have a great passion and love for what they do whether it’s landscaping, consulting or creating products, I’m fascinated.
When you first started out in undergrad, what career path were you interested in? If that differed from your current chosen path, what changed your mind?
I never thought an undergraduate degree in Anthropology would get me where I am today, and where I am is not where I had planned to be. Coming out of high school I had the (naive) belief that if you studied what you love, it would lead you to a career you love. Boy was I wrong! I had no idea what the career implications of having an Anthropology degree were. From my own experience, the only thing my undergraduate degree actually qualified me for was the opportunity to go for a Master’s degree. In light of this, I decided to earn a Post-Grad in Human Resources. Here I learnt more workplace applicable skills that have since helped me to gain valuable work place experience. This choice was made based on the fact that I enjoyed the work, and it would round out my humanities education with some business experience.
How would you describe your hometown to a blind person?
This is a tricky one. My home town is a lot like any other small town in Ontario: it has 1,800 people, and is a twenty-minute drive through farm country to the closest Timmies. You can’t walk more than five minutes anywhere in town without running into someone you know. Which means that, while you could possibly walk across town in 20 minutes flat, it actually takes much longer to do so. There are many independently owned shops, as well as smaller versions of some chain stores. We have parks, rivers, trails, and a strong farming culture.