Meaningful Mentorships Support Career Development
By Laura Ambrosio and Bradley Ingram
Breaking into the communications field can be difficult. Professors and advisors are often able to help students get their start in the industry, but after graduation it can be difficult to find similar guidance for navigating the working world. Mentors can help bridge that gap and serve as a valuable resource throughout your career, especially during key milestones.
Mentoring relationships enable professionals to learn from each other, share career advice, network, develop coaching skills, and practice giving and receiving feedback. Mentorship is also a good way to give back to the profession by helping others be successful in their careers.
The pandemic drove much of our lives online and mentoring was no exception. Many have transitioned their mentoring check-ins from in-person to virtual meetings. The switch to a virtual environment has allowed mentees to connect with mentors from anywhere and have more flexibility in the timing and frequency of meetings.
Even more important than where or how mentors and mentees connect, is that both people are committed to the mentorship process.
Creating a meaningful mentorship
With mutually agreed upon objectives for the mentor relationship, the process can be beneficial and rewarding to both parties involved. Mentors can be exposed to new ideas, technologies and perspectives, gain satisfaction from helping others, expand relationships, and hone leadership and coaching skills. Mentees can gain insight and understanding into a profession, industry, or organization, brainstorm ideas, receive feedback on professional development and career growth, and develop new skills.
Successful mentoring partnerships:
- Establish clear goals and expectations.
- Stick to a regular schedule.
- Agree on a timeline to achieve goals.
How to be an helpful mentor
A good mentor can be an essential part of career planning and success. Effective mentors are typically passionate and knowledgeable about their profession, a strong communicator and listener, and are willing to provide guidance, training, and support to their mentee.
- Plan ahead for meetings and set a brief agenda outline for what topics will be discussed during the meeting.
- Explain their role, professional background and experience.
- Provide examples and share real-world experiences when possible.
- Always listen first, empathize, then advise.
How to be an effective mentee
Establishing clear objectives is a key element to getting the most out of a mentorship. Mentees should also be willing to take initiative of their learning and be an open and responsive communicator.
- Come prepared to ask questions, find similar career interests and discuss areas that they’d like to know more about.
- Are proactive in sharing updates, goals, challenges and accomplishments with their mentor.
- Take notes during meetings.
- Are open to feedback, even if it is constructive criticism. Mentors want to help with career growth.
- Follow through on commitments and next steps.
- Are respectful of their mentor’s time.
Not sure how to get started? Our Mentorship Committee is focused on helping professionals learn and improve skills, navigate career transitions, and connecting mentors and mentees. Visit our website to learn more and get started now.
Laura Ambrosio serves on the Board of Directors for PRSA NCC and is Chair of the University Relations Committee. She is a communications professional working at the Consumer Technology Association.
Bradley Ingram is a Senior Account Executive at Zeno Group and serves on the PRSA NCC University Relations Committee.