What are Public Relations Professionals Doing for the Future?

by Katie Essner on March 15, 2010

A Student’s Perspective on Mentoring

By Katie Essner

As a recent graduate from the University of Mississippi and a current graduate student at St. Bonaventure University, I value the significance of my mentors in the public relations profession.

Those who I consider mentors are the professors, internship supervisors, work colleagues and superiors that inspire me the most.  I learn more from those who touch my life directly than those who can only advise from afar.

What I look for in a mentor is someone who will challenge me, but understands I am still learning the profession.  I want a mentor who will guide me when I need it, and not always throw me to the wolves. In public relations, professionals never stop learning how to improve themselves and enhance their work.  A strong foundation must be built in the beginning, and mentors play an influential role in this process.

As a student, my advice to those who mentor future public relations professionals is to challenge us constantly.  Make us think you have assigned an impossible task, so once we complete it we see the pride that comes from a job well done.

I once had a professor who never seemed to be satisfied.  She gave difficult assignments and graded with a heavy hand.  But the challenge to keep working harder and never settling for mediocre writing made me constantly reevaluate the work I was producing.  While a demanding class, I will forever be grateful for the challenges she provided us.

Students will also remember those mentors who believe in them.  One public relations professional I look to as a mentor gave me the creative freedom to plan an event of my choosing while also lending a helping hand. Knowing someone trusts a task will be well done while still guiding the way is rewarding and helps build confidence in students. The event exceeded my expectations and I was amazed to see what I could create with my own hard work and the help of a mentor.

For mentors, it is important to challenge the future generation of public relations professionals:  test our limits and show us the rewards of perseverance.  At the same time, do not forget we may not always know the way.  Push us in the right direction and give us the tools and advice we need to complete the task at hand.  By doing so, you will prepare the next generation of public relations professionals.