Throughout college, I was an active member of the University of Northern Iowa Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter (and if you are trying to figure out where you have heard of the University of Northern Iowa before, we were the school that upset your 2010 NCAA bracket when we beat Kansas). PRSSA was a great organization that really complimented my education and allowed me to put the concepts I was learning in the classroom into practice. Some of the activities that I benefited from the most were those that allowed opportunities for networking and mentorship with PR professionals. I looked forward to guest speakers coming to our Chapter meetings and walking us through their career history and sharing about the celebrities they had met or events they had been a part of. I always had my list of questions ready as they let us pick their brain about how we as college students could better prepare for our future careers. Anxious to graduate with a job in the industry, I tried to take as much of their advice as possible about where to intern, what classes to take, tips to tweak my resume and even what books to read. Since my school was located in a fairly small community, most of the local professionals were very familiar with my professors and our PRSSA program. They were often more than willing to set up informational interviews or help introduce us to key contacts at the internships we wanted. Their efforts were so helpful and appreciated that I vowed whenever I got a job in the public relations field, I would provide the same type of mentorship.
During the course of my internship at the Taylor Charlotte office, I was able to set up one-on-one meetings with the majority of the staff there. Just like in college, I grilled them about how they got their start and what I could do to ensure my success not only at Taylor, but in the PR field in general. I applied all of their advice to my work, and found that their mentorship really made a difference in my internship experience.
Since then, I have moved on to the Taylor Chicago office and now work as an Account Coordinator on the Allstate team. This new position qualified me to be a guest speaker for a UNI PRSSA meeting via Skype last week. Although the “history of my career” portion was brief, and I was probably the least experienced guest speaker the Chapter has had to date, I still tried to inspire my former classmates by proving that it is possible to land a job in this industry post-graduation.
After working at Taylor for a few months, I now know firsthand how busy the day can get and how easy it is to push aside things like informational interview requests and college networking events. Even so, the advice and inspiration you give to the over-eager freshman PR student (who has already sent you three LinkedIn request reminders since you met him at a networking event last night) is appreciated more than you think. I think as professionals it is so important to remember the value behind these mentor relationships and how beneficial they can be. I have been so impressed by the willingness to guide, and the general attitudes overall of the Taylor staff. Although it was exciting to show off my new view outside of my office window to the PRSSA group, I look forward to gaining more experience and being able to someday offer the same insightful advice that I have received during my the start of my career at Taylor.