professional development…Mentorship: What New Pros Have to Offer by Sommer Caraway

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Throughout my life, I’ve been advised that I should always have a mentor and be a mentor.  When I first joined PRSA, a mentor program is something I searched for but found was nonexistent.  Shortly thereafter, I became a Phoenix PRSA New Pros leader and about a year ago, we divided our responsibilities into two keys areas: events and mentorship.  A passionate advocate of the latter, I was tasked with developing a mentor program, in which we New Pros would mentor others.

We developed the first mentor program between the PRSSA students at Arizona State University with the goal to simply bridge the gap between the academic and professional worlds.

We set small goals, knowing that we could build on them later. The PRSSA liaison (a PRSA member) and I decided to pair up New Pros group leaders with the student leaders.  We would try it for a semester and if it worked, we hoped word-of-mouth would yield greater participation the next semester.

So I sent out mentor and mentee interest forms to the most active New Pros and to the PRSSA president. To our surprise, 14 students signed up to be mentees the first semester!

We designed the mentor program to be informal so that people wouldn’t feel the time commitment was unattainable. For one semester, every other month, pairs were to meet one-on-one; on the off months, all pairs would meet as a group.

Because of the commitment of the PRSSA leaders and the gracious mentors, the program has been a success, and we look forward to implementing it again this year!

Thinking of starting a New Pros/PRSSA Mentor group? Here are five ideas for group meetings to get you started:

  1. Plan a kick-off happy hour (with options for students under 21, of course!) to discuss the importance of mentoring, expectations and topics students care about.
  2. Schedule a volunteer group event in lieu of a happy hour so mentors and mentees get to know one another outside of work.
  3. Pair up with the local Master’s SIG for a “speed mentoring” event that includes students, New Pros and seasoned pros.
  4. Offer a Shadow Day so students can see PR in action at local agencies and corporations. Encourage mentors to schedule a group lunch the same day so mentees can discuss what they learned.
  5. Plan a holiday, spring or graduation party to conclude the semester of mentoring. Host at someone’s house for a casual, fun celebration!

Sommer Caraway is a public relations professional in Arizona and a New Pros Committee Leader in Phoenix PRSA.  She may be reached at sommercaraway@yahoo.com.

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