One of my earliest career mentors (who also influenced my career-long involvement in Champions for PRSSA), David Bicofsky, taught me early on that effective mentoring is a two-way relationship between mentor and protégé.
Thirteen years ago, we even co-wrote a Public Relations Tactics article on the subject, “Two Sides of the Mentoring Process,” wherein we each penned our perspectives on what mentors and protégés alike hopefully do well — but sometimes do wrong — toward making mentoring effective for both parties.
It all boils down to setting balanced expectations — as well as each person bringing a genuine and mutual respect, care and sense of contribution to the relationship.
I liken mentoring to investing in the stock market… its greatest value is generally realized with steady contributions over time.
And indeed, Dave’s and my mentoring relationship is now more than 20 years strong now, and with it, a true friendship took root long ago with my husband and me counting Dave and his wife among our closest family friends.
Dave paid me a compliment many years ago that the tables had turned and he actually was getting good advice from me… which couldn’t have come to me as higher praise. But then, that’s what can happen when you’re mentored by one of the very best!
Champions for PRSSA started in large part as a scholarship program for PRSSA students. Each member of Champions pays annual dues of $50 that go toward Chapter development honors and scholarships, which are awarded on a competitive basis.
Today, we also want students and new professionals to utilize Champions members as resources to benefit any PRSSA student or PRSA new professional, for advice, career development, and yes, long-term mentorship.
I urge all PRSA professionals who care about the future of the profession to join Champions for PRSSA and make themselves available as mentors.
I also urge PRSSA students and new professionals to check out the Champions directory, find a professional whose career bio interests them, and reach out with your questions to get a dialogue going.
Among my favorite quotes about mentoring is this one by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Early in our careers, it’s quite alright to benefit more so from the receipt of what mentorship offers, but very soon, it’s equally important to return the favor.
Mary Beth West, APR, serves as a co-chair of Champions for PRSSA. She served on both the PRSSA National Committee while a student at the University of Tennessee and on the PRSA National Board later in her career. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @marybethwest.