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The Power of Mentorship

By Dani Ganley, OCPRSA YoPro Committee Member

As many PR veterans can attest to, the first few years of your career can be challenging, and if you have the right tools, just as fulfilling. OCPRSA’s Young Professionals “YoPro” group offers a place where young professionals and recent graduates can learn and grow in the PR world.

Part of being a YoPro is having the opportunity to be involved in OCPRSA’s Mentorship Program, which takes the guesswork and intimidation out of finding a mentor by matching YoPros and recent grads with PR veterans.

This year’s program launched in the spring and goes through October. Mentee-mentor pairs have already been connecting and learning from each other. We connected with mentor Elaine Marshall, president of Empowered Public Relations, and mentee Arianna Ford, a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, who is the marketing and events coordinator for Modern Luxury. They shared their experience with the program.

OCPRSA: What motivated you to sign up for the mentorship program?
Ford: I was looking for a job and I was feeling a little defeated, and then I saw an email about the YoPro mentorship program. I felt it was going to be a really great opportunity have an official mentor and to network with professionals. I’d been part of PRSSA and I really enjoyed the organization, and that’s why I joined PRSA and the mentorship program.

OCPRSA: What’s been the most helpful thing about being a mentee so far?
Ford: I had been looking for a job for about a year, and it had been really difficult finding appropriate opportunities. When I got matched with my mentor Elaine, I was in the final stages of the interview process for two jobs. One of them was my dream job which was with Modern Luxury. The other job, not my dream job, was a receptionist position, that was great paying, but it was not what I wanted to do. Elaine gave me the confidence to turn down the receptionist position. It worked out perfectly, because I ended up getting my dream job. I was to the point where I was almost willing to take almost anything, and she helped me step back and reassess my worth. Once I had the offer, Elaine looked over the contract with me and gave me tips on what to ask before I accepted the position.

OCPRSA: What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor so far?
Marshall: Helping Arianna navigate getting her first professional job was really rewarding. We discussed many things, including how to gracefully withdraw from consideration for jobs that weren’t a fit after having an interview, how to dress for a job interview, ways to respond to emails about interview availability, getting more time before starting a position so the mentee had time to unwind from the job search, and how to prepare to start a new job.

OCPRSA: What would you say to a PR professional considering becoming a mentor?
Marshall: If you are a professional with time to offer a new graduate or someone starting out in their career, think about becoming a mentor. I’m just a couple of months in and am finding the experience incredibly rewarding.

OCPRSA: What advice do you have for a recent graduate or young professional who has recently entered the workforce?
Marshall: Remember that you are interviewing companies as much as they are interviewing you. You want to make sure that the job is a great fit for you. You will be there every day for a couple of years, so make sure you are excited about going to work and learning in your next role.

OCPRSA: Being a recent graduate yourself, what advice would you give to current college students and recent graduates pursuing a career in PR?
Ford: I know that the membership fee we have to pay might make new graduates hesitant to join PRSA, but as new graduates, we get a great discount. So, if you aren’t sure what industry you want to go into, or don’t have connections, or if you are looking for a mentor, right when you graduate is the best time to become a member. With the mentorship program, you can really get a solid foot into the PR industry with professional help.

Inspired to grow? Join OCPRSA for the first YoPro event of the year, “Meet the Agencies,” on May 30, at California Southern University. The evening will feature a panel discussion with some of Orange County’s leading PR agencies. We’ll discuss leading strategies in today’s marketplace, what it takes to land your first gig and much more. Register on the OCPRSA Events page.

 

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