The Importance of Having a Mentor

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By Jess Frezza, Strategic Planning Chair

Entering college and deciding which direction to go in can be a difficult task. Making the most of your time and professional opportunities can be even harder. Finding a mentor, that will guide you, can help make the process less daunting and will provide you with support through the maze of higher education.

Without knowing it, I found two mentors my first semester of college through my THON committee. Both were two years older and studying the subjects that I was interested in potentially pursuing: advertising and public relations When I started college, I felt lost and really confused but thanks to great mentorship, I’ve had incredible opportunities and learned a lot. If you’re feeling lost, seeking out mentorship is something that can benefit you immensely. Here’s what I learned from my mentors along the way:

General Advice

When I first decided I wanted to be an advertising/public relations major, I didn’t know which option to pick. However, speaking with both my mentors gave me better insight into both the industries and I ultimately chose the public relations option. At the time my PR mentor was the Director of Membership for PRSSA and I can credit her for getting me involved with the organization; something that I’m extremely thankful for. I still run to these two for advice on classes, cover letters, résumés and even what to wear to an interview.

Internship Opportunities

At the end of my freshman year, I knew I had to start looking for internship opportunities but I didn’t really know how to start that. At the time, both my mentors interned in athletics and it was an industry I was very interested in. Not only did they help me get an interview with the position but they also vouched for me and I ended up getting the internship. A good mentor wants to see you succeed and will help you every step of the way.

Networking

Generally speaking, your mentor will probably have more experience in the field than you do. Tapping into their network and resources is incredibly beneficial to building your own. I found that if I went to them for a question they didn’t know the answer to, they knew the right person to send me to.

Support and Advice

These are the people who respond to the professional crisis you have at midnight or tell you which headshot to use for your LinkedIn. I cannot reiterate the number of times I’ve spewed out my professional dilemmas with them and they’ve helped me map out my options. They are the first people to congratulate you when you get the internship you wanted or the first people to tell you “you’re going to find something even better” when you get a heartbreaking denial.
While mentorship can help you thrive professionally, it can also provide you with long lasting friendships. My mentors became some of my closest friends and people I could count on for non-professional matters as well. At the end of the day, a mentor not only provides you with an excellent professional relationship, but also a long lasting friendship.

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