Monday, December 6, 2010

Everybody Needs a Mentor!

As a Political Science Graduate from McMaster University, I entered Mohawk's public relations program not knowing what exactly to expect! One thing that I honestly (embarrassingly) did not expect, was the existence of a Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS)! It turns out that there is in fact a CPRS, and with a Hamilton Chapter to boot! But wait, it gets even better! The CPRS also offers a Mentorship Program for students and PR people alike to take part in! Wow..who knew, right? Not me! But I was sure glad to have found out about it! I took a shot and filled out an application for a spot as a mentee in the program, crossed my fingers for approval, and was accepted shortly after (yay!). I have never been happier with my decision to do so!

In the early weeks of the program, three guests from the CPRS came to speak during our Program Planning class. Ginny Jones, Christina Jean-Pierre, and Frank Florio provided us with an overview of the industry association and introduced students to the CPRS Mentorship Program. The presentation that they gave led me to make one of the most beneficial choices that I possibly could have made. We were told that being a mentee can help us develop personal and professional skills and insights that we will hold onto for a lifetime. Some of the benefits of joining include (as listed on the CPRS website):
-  Access to an intermediate or senior practitioner in your field of interest who can serve as a guide and confidant as you progress in your PR career.
An opportunity to gain valuable industry skills and knowled
  Building essential networking skills, as well as, establishing a network of PR contacts through your mentor.
- Guidance with writing your resume, developing your portfolio or other career advice.

In addition, mentees are required to attend four out of five mentorship events, and will actually work as a team to plan one of those events for our mentors. Only four out of five events?! Now, that is not a lot to ask and will not at all interfere with school work, if you prioritize your time.  One thing that I have found from being a part of the program is that I want to attend all five events, especially considering that the more involvement you have in this professional community, the better the experience and learning process you get from it! Plus, you come out of it with a mutually beneficial experience combined with an everlasting relationship between you and your mentor. Who doesn't want a mentor, really? I personally believe that whether or not you feel confident in your PR ability and networking skills, consider the mentorship program experience and what you will gain from being a part of it. Networking is SO important in this profession, and being a part of the CPRS community can really help you with that, especially when you attend the events. I have attended two events so far and have been 'wowed' with the experience, conversational value, people I have met and the things that I have learned.  

This is my mentor Mark Gregory, Managing Partner of Locomotion Communications and Public Relations Ltd.:

The other beauty of the program is that you and your mentor can create your own personalized meeting schedule tailored to your needs!! Whether that be through e-mails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings every two weeks or every month, is up to the two of you! Mark and I meet every other Monday from 9 until 10 in the morning at his office, and also communicate regularly through e-mail. Mark is a wonderful mentor with an extreme passion for the industry, who offers me a plethora of knowledge and experience to help guide me towards my goals. We have had many intelligent conversations that have been incredibly inspirational for the both of us. One of the main messages that I have learned from him so far is: That I CAN, and I WILL! :) Thanks for that Mark!


And this is a photo of myself, and a few classmates at a CPRS event held at the Burlington Golf and Country Club on November 3, 2010. The event was the first of a three part lecture called "Professional Development: Navigating Your Career" delivered by Roxanne Cramer, President of Cramer and Company. (http://www.cprs.ca/prodev/RCramer.htm) More information about this event can be found further down on my fellow classmates very informative blog entitled "Tips for a successful PR Career!" 

For any future PR students reading this blog, I encourage you to take my advice and become a mentee when you get the opportunity! For my current classmates not involved in the program, you sure are missing out on a great overall experience, but I still encourage each and every one of you to attend the events, as you will not be disappointed! Strategies and tactics are an essential part of any communications plan. However, developing a set of our OWN strategies and tactics for our personal plans in life are just as important. Since I know that one important strategy is to develop and use networking skills to learn and make career advancements, a GREAT tactic for any PR person would certainly be to take part in the Mentorship Program offered by the Canadian Public Relations Society. It is a privilege to be a part of and you are gauranteed to come of it feeling both enlightened and inspired. Make sure that you DON'T MISS OUT! 

If you want to gather any further information regarding the CPRS and what it has to offer, visit their website at: http://cprs-hamilton.ca/

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