When Stars Align: How a Chance Meeting Turned Into a Mentor

Lost. Anxious. Deflated.

Those are the words I would use to describe myself in April 2023, near the end of my sophomore year, when I concluded an unsuccessful summer internship search after completing over 150 applications and countless interview rounds. 

Little did I know that attending a PRSA Chapter event would quickly change my negative sentiments. I attended the PRSA Tampa Bay Mentorship Meet and Geet solely to accompany a close friend from USF PRSSA, yet this event opened the door to a mentor-mentee relationship I would forever be grateful for.

Since my assigned mentor could not join me for the event, I hung around and chatted  with different people. I bumped into Bart Graham, to whom I admitted about my lack of confidence and experience in starting a conversation with new people. He showed me the way by kindly introducing me to Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor, who immediately left the impression of kindness and humility.

Liz and I bonded over stories of Vietnam, my home country, after she happened to share her plans to visit Vietnam for vacation that summer. After hearing more about my hometown in central Vietnam, Liz revised her travel plans to add Da Nang, my city of origin, as a stop in her trip.

Liz and Philip Taylor explored Da Nang, Vietnam

I went over to Liz’s house for the first time for a delicious traditional meal of Thanksgiving turkey and kayak over the peaceful Hillsborough river from her backyard. Living in the U.S. with no family as an international student, I was touched by the kindness of Liz and her husband, Phil.

Quyen and Liz met at Liz’s house for the first time

I was pleasantly surprised to find out Liz and Phil would come to visit my hometown on the same days I would be back to see my family, we organized a time to meet each other. It was a beautiful summer day when I got the precious opportunity to introduce my parents to Liz and Phil as they arrived in central Vietnam. My mother and I took them around different museums, historical sites and our favorite coffee spot to introduce them more to the culture of Vietnam. Our conversations gave me new perspectives about my own childhood, upbringing and culture.

Hanh Nguyen (Quyen’s mom), Quyen and Phil pictured at a coffee shop in Vietnam.

Hanh Nguyen (Quyen’s mom) introduced Liz and Phil to the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture.

Upon returning to the U.S., Liz and I continued to meet and nurture our mentor-mentee relationship.

Liz pictured by Quyen on their visit to Bamboozle Heights, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Tampa, FL.

Through her advice and mentorship, I successfully landed a Spring 2024 public relations internship at B2 Communications, a top PR agency in the Tampa Bay area, and will soon go on to pursue my content marketing internship with Jabil, a multinational manufacturing corporation headquartered in St. Pete, FL.

None of this would have been possible without the constant support and wisdom shared by Liz Taylor as well as the amazing work of the PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter.

This journey has taught me to always embrace opportunities and put myself out there. You simply don’t know who you’ll meet. A chance encounter could turn into a meaningful mentor relationship that lasts a lifetime. 

Quyen Tran is an aspiring marketing communications professional and a highly motivated USF Junior year PR and Advertising student.

She’s currently the Public Relations intern at B2 Communications, a rockstar PR agency in St. Pete, FL. Quyen also actively serves the USF community in leadership roles as the Managing Editor of Sparks Magazine and a proud USF Ambassador. It was the full-year life-changing social media & communications internship at the USF Foundation Inc. that has opened the door to amazing industry opportunities in social media management, email marketing campaigns and journalistic/PR writing for her.

Don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn or check out my portfolio!

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