I call Dr. Jones more often than I call my best friend. Dr. Sallot wrote me a letter of recommendation that made me cry and Dr. Sweetser helped me find my love of research that I had buried deep down inside.
It is because of my mentors that I am the student, the practitioner and the person I am today. Dr. Sallot encouraged me to join PRSSA – which is now the most important part of my college experience. Dr. Sweetser helped me to get my undergraduate research published and taught me to fight my fear of public speaking. Dr. Jones has been my cheerleader through everything I’ve tried to do and she’s a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go as planned.
These amazing women have made me realize how important mentoring is to an ambitious young student. As an only child, I never filled the role of “big sister” until I began college. I became the motherly influence on my dorm mates and took “my freshies” under my wing as I moved up through the ranks of PRSSA.
This year, I stepped up to lead the Mentoring Committee within our PRSSA chapter and it was the most rewarding thing I’ve done. I am so proud of my two mentees – Kat and Eric. They both just finished their freshman year and have had great accomplishments already. Kat has learned to be well-informed when speaking with professionals and asks intelligent questions. Eric has a summer internship at the largest sports PR firm in Atlanta and is on a first name basis with the President of PRSA | GA.
I also held a mentoring event this year, “What I Wish I Knew Before Grady,” where we had small, round-table discussions in which younger students could ask questions and garner advice from those who have survived the Grady entrance essay, Dr. Sweetser’s class and a couple of internships.
Having a mentor and then becoming one is the best way to pass it forward in life.
I ask you practitioners out there, well into your careers, to never forget that you were once that nervous 20-year-old sitting on the other side of a big, mahogany desk answering questions about your experience and skills. Smile when you recognize the anxious wringing of the hands beneath the desk and offer advice where you see fit.
Students, don’t be afraid to ask questions, form friendships and, the ever-famous word in the world of pr, network!! And just because you are still in school doesn’t mean you can’t help those following behind you. Reach out a hand. I encourage you to find a “freshie” and teach them the little tips and tricks you had to learn the hard way.