When I was in college, I had the perception that to be a mentor, a certain archetype was followed. They have decades of experience in the profession. They have a Rolodex (or iPhone address book) that covers the globe and includes industry leaders. They lead industry associations on top of leading departments and agencies.
While those folks can make great mentors, they only represent the tip of the iceberg. Mentors can also be people who have smaller networks and a handful of years’ experience. In fact, with how much the industry has shifted from its traditional model in recent years, young professionals have a huge opportunity to mentor the incoming generation of the industry.
Below are some tips for your professionals to get involved with mentorship:
- Participate in an employer mentor program. If you work for a larger organization, chances are there is some kind of official or unofficial mentor program. Start with your HR team to see if there’s a way you can participate.
- Start a mentor program. If you work for a smaller organization or one that lacks a mentorship program, consider starting one. Even if you’re new in your career, you can help show the ropes to new employees and younger professionals.
- Connect with local universities and offer to speak at classes. When you speak at classes, be sure to leave business cards for the students. The ones who follow up and ask questions might be looking for an industry mentor.
- Speak at volunteer at PRSA/PRSSA. PRSSA students are always looking for great programming to bring to their members. Connect with local student leaders and to find out when you can participate in a meeting or event.
The hard part about mentorship is not necessarily finding the opportunities; it’s about making time. With work and having a life, it’s hard to find more time for other activities. Mentorship is not something that is in its own bucket – mentorship should be an essential part of your career. It makes you feel good. It helps you learn. And most importantly, developing this habit while you’re new in your career will keep mentorship a part of your routine.
Nick Lucido is this year’s Young Professional winner of the Plank Center’s “Milestones in Mentoring” Award. Nick is a Senior Account Executive at Edelman Digital in Chicago. Learn more about him and the mentorship awards program from the Plank Center website.