Mentors in Public Relations

This post was submitted by Rachel M. Esterline of Central Michigan University.

Mentors can be key to confidence and success.  They also can serve as
a resource for fresh ideas and advice.
There are a variety of areas a mentor can help a public relations
student, including:

* Resume and cover letter suggestions
* Internships and jobs
* Networking
* Professional development
* Insights on the profession

What are some good ways to find a mentor?

8 thoughts on “Mentors in Public Relations

    • Author gravatar

      BYU PRSSA has a really unique program to match students with potential mentors. Our Interlock mentorship program involves local professionals and students in the chapter so both can benefit. First a student fills out a form describing the kind of information they’re interested in learning about (ex. more about sports pr, how to juggle a family, information on graduate school, agency life, etc.). Professionals also fill out a form saying what they can offer to students. Then we (or just the VP of Professional Development) make the matches.

      This has proved to be a very successful program over the years. Students have gained job opportunities, internships, or just general knowledge. Perhaps this is something to implement in your chapter?

    • Author gravatar

      @Carrie – That’s great. I’m actually working on something similar for the chapter at Central Michigan University. I think having professionals as mentors is a great benefit of PRSSA.

    • Author gravatar

      Each PRSSA Chapter has a local sponsoring PRSA Chapter. The connections to this Chapter is through you Faculty and/or Professional Advisor(s). You might considered asking the Professional Advisor to help you obtain a professional mentor via this connection. You can also just call the local PRSA Chapter President directly and inquire further.

      PRSA has many professional members eager to serve as mentors. Also, the Champions for PRSSA is another great network of professionals to look to in this regard. The directory for this group can be found at
      http://www.prssa.org/about/champions.asp.

      I hope this helps.

    • Author gravatar

      When I went to Ball State we had a mentor/protege program in our PRSSA chapter. Throughout the year there were opportunities for us to collaborate, participate in events or simply ask for advice. Those who wanted to participated signed up, and I remember it being very successful. The juniors and seniors would sign up to be mentors and then paired with a freshman or sophomore.

      Another way I’ve personally gained mentors myself has been through job shadows. While I was in college second semester senior year, I knew I was interested in working in health care so I researched the appropriate contacts at the hospitals I was interested in and asked if I could job shadow. Its during that time I was able to ask the right questions and thus started a mentor/protege relationship. Doing your homework on the company before a job shadow too is always a plus.

      Hope this helps!

    • Author gravatar

      @Rachel I would echo Jeneen’s comments about using a network of professional and faculty advisors–as well as the Champions for PRSSA–to find a professional mentor. Both groups have committed to helping students, and most will be happy to offer guidance. Look for areas of common interest when contacting them for the first time. Perhaps they went to your school or practice the type of PR that most interests you. Some may appreciate a traditional letter or email, but also consider how you can use social media (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn) to start a conversation. But the best way is to attend PRSSA activities and network in person with the people who could help you along the way.

    • Author gravatar

      As Carrie and Rachel have said, it’s important to take part in your local Chapter’s professional development programs. If you don’t have one, it’s best to look to PRSA, as Jeneen mentioned, along with professors so that you can build up a mentorship program. You’d need to create a database of local internships that have been offered and contact those coordinators. They are usually very helpful in educating students by being speakers or volunteering their time in a mentorship program.

      Also if your Chapter doesn’t have the program or manpower to accomplish such a feat, you should look into ways you can create opportunities for yourself to gain mentors. Oftentimes those relationships exist, you just have to be the one to open yourself up and tell someone you’re interested in the work they do and would like to learn more. I’ve developed several mentors through PRSSA activities. Being a sponge of information, keeping in contact with them and sending gift cards will foster great relationships with mentors and improve your public relations skills.

      A final suggestion is to consider joining http://www.linkedin.com. It’s a strictly professional networking Web site that provides powerful tools to dialogue other professionals that you know and don’t know, get professional advice and find out about job opportunities. PRSSA has a group on there as well.

      Good Luck!

    • Author gravatar

      I agree with what both Jeremy and Jeneen have said. PRSA has many great oppertunities and is a great outreach to it’s students. As someone who enjoyed his time in PRSSA and mentors I’ve had because of PRSA. I find that in my career and field (not PR) is sorely missing an organizations that looks after fostering the next wave of professionals. Take advantage as not many careers or industries have professionals or professional organizations that have this benefit.

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