Guest blogger Kelsey King is the social media manager for Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Coast’s regional convention and visitor’s bureau. She has previously worked in multiple public relations and marketing agencies, but she recently began a position in her dream field of tourism public relations. She is from Covington, La., and graduated from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication in May 2015. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Relationships with my mentors have been invaluable throughout my college career. My internships, collegiate awards and even my first full-time position can all be attributed to my mentors in some way.
Finding a mentor— Finding a mentor can be difficult if you aren’t exactly sure why you need one, so the first step is to discover what you are looking for in the relationship. Scan your network for someone with a set of skills you aspire to obtain, your dream job, or connections you would like to have. Once you have a potential mentor, reach out. Ask if he or she would like meet for coffee (PR professionals love coffee). You should go to the first meeting prepared with questions and topics to discuss with your mentor. As in all things PR, the relationship has to be mutually beneficial. You cannot expect to maintain a relationship only one person is benefitting from. You have to bring something to the table as well. For example, if you interested in a position similar to your mentor’s, ask if you can volunteer a few hours a week to learn more about the business.
Being a mentor—Give back, and be a mentor to someone else. Not only will this help someone else, but also will help you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. You will learn from your mentee if you take the time to invest in the relationship. Being a mentor shows you are dedicated to your field of work and passionate about future professionals. Many times being a mentor will also help you develop more meaningful, authentic relationships with your own mentors.
Maintaining the relationships—Check in with your mentors. Communication doesn’t need to be often, but you should send your mentors a text or an email every month or so. Even if there is nothing specific you need to catch up about, reach out to ask them how they have been. This will show your mentors that you don’t just want something from them, but you truly value them and their help.
I am fortunate enough to have multiple people in my life I consider mentors. Don’t be scared to reach out to tell someone you admire his or her work. Many times people are flattered that you have reached out, and would love to help you.
It is important that you continue to cultivate these relationships because the connections will not only be important throughout school and your job search, but your mentors and mentees will one day be your colleagues.