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An OCPRSA Mentorship Success Story

The first few years of your PR career can be extremely challenging. Luckily OCPRSA offers a multitude of resources to help new PR pros navigate these uncharted waters. Any seasoned PR practitioner will tell you how important it is to have a mentor when starting out, and OCPRSA’s Mentorship Program takes the guesswork and intimidation out of the process by matching YoPRos and recent grads directly with PR veterans. Your mentor is there to guide and support you during an unfamiliar period, answering questions and sharing their invaluable insight as you grow in the professional world.

We connected with mentee-mentor pair Ryan Hines and Teri Sawyer to share a bit about their experience in OCPRSA’s mentorship program.

Teri Sawyer and Ryan Hines

After graduating in 2011 and finding that landing a job, or even an interview for that matter, was more difficult that he expected, Hines joined OCPRSA and was paired with PR pro, Teri Sawyer. Since joining OCPRSA, Hines has worked in public relations for Chapman University, led experiential marketing events for Celebrity Cruises, and most recently accepted a corporate communications position at Toyota’s new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas.

OCPRSA: What motivated you to sign up for our mentorship program?

HINES: I knew networking may lead to job opportunities, so I joined OCPRSA and was paired with Teri as my mentor. She got me through some very intense challenges during a pivotal time of my life. She was always there to support me, from providing guidance to being my biggest cheerleader. I call her my “PR mom.”

OCPRSA: How did your mentor support you or help you improve as a professional?

HINES: She helped strengthen my understanding of perseverance. During some challenging times when I wanted to throw in the towel, she encouraged me to take the more difficult path because it would be worth it in the long run. I’m glad I heeded her advice because I gained the experience needed to continue growing in my field, which has prepared me to work in different environments and ultimately land some very cool jobs.

OCPRSA: What advice would you give to young PR professionals looking to get the most out of their mentorship?

HINES: Ask lots of questions and listen to your mentor; remember that they walked this path before you. They have your best interests at heart and the recommendations they make are for a reason. In addition to having direct access to a knowledgeable PR professional at the start of my career, I’ve gained a friend for life.

Teri Sawyer is a longstanding and active member of OCPRSA with more than three decades of PR experience. Teri opened her own agency called T&Co in 1993, and today works on award-winning campaigns for B2C and B2B clients including Pedego Electric Bikes, the #1 electric bike company in the United States.

OCPRSA: What made you want to become a mentor?

SAWYER: I wanted to give back. In the beginning of my career, I was lucky enough to have a couple of mentors that helped me immensely, and I wanted to pay it forward.

OCPRSA: What do you enjoy most about being a mentor?

SAWYER: Seeing my mentees succeed! Mentoring Ryan has been a joy. I’ve worked with him through many stages of his career, from introducing him to my PR peers when he first joined OCPRSA, to celebrating his success after landing a big marketing job with Toyota. I am very proud of him.

OCPRSA: What advice do you have for recent graduates?

SAWYER: Get to know people in careers that interest you, realize that you must pay your dues and, most of all, never give up! I always tell myself that if anyone can do it, so can I. Signing up for the mentorship program and being paired with a dedicated mentor presents a great learning opportunity, so take advantage of it by asking questions, expressing curiosity and being proactive.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of OCPRSA’s Mentorship Program, contact Katelyn McLeod at You must be an OCPRSA member to participate. Deadline to register is Friday, March 30, 2018. Mentorship Kickoff Mixer will be held from 6-8p at Powerhouse Communications on April 4 (open to registrants only).

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