For the industry to improve we need to mentor the next generation. For the last 20 years I’ve been pairing journalism students with public relations professionals in an award-winning mentorship program through the Public Relations Society of America Sierra Chapter and the Theodore Conover chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America. For pros who are willing but had never done this before, I crafted a list of ways to get started. Find a young professional (or 9) and help them grow.
1. Make time. Spend an hour a month with the student. If you can cover food, bonus. Remember when you were a college student.
2. When you meet, share your knowledge about the industry, your specialty, trends you see.
3. Provide insight into the best skills to develop while still in college-whether through course work or club participation or internships or hobbies.
4. Prepare students to handle challenges, confidence, negotiation for internships, jobs, salary.
5. Review resumes and cover letters and online platforms.
6. Suggest interviewing techniques. Describe what qualities you’d look for in an employee.
7. Allow the student to shadow you for a day or a half a day or even a couple of hours.
8. Take students to networking events either PRSA or a professional development group in your field. Help encourage them to meet new people.
9. Share interesting articles or leading edge information that you’re reading/watching/studying. Discuss the info and insights at the next opportunity.
10. Open doors if you can-to internships, to starting positions, to travel opportunities.
Enjoy. You’ll probably find you learn as much as you share. And you’ll have a life long friendship.