By Clare Sayas, Board member
I fell in love with PR in a little room in West Hollywood, paid in product samples, food magazines and coffee. Twitter was brand new then, and one of the women of the two-person food and restaurant PR firm I was interning for that summer was teaching me how to use the tool.
She had been the one to hire me in that summer, after reading my thin resume and eager resume after I had met her at a USC Career Center event. We connected over having a guilty love of Wolfgang Puck’s canned goods and the writing of Noelle Carter, and kept exchanging emails about what it was like to work in PR.
Fast forward to my career now, and I can tell you with no hesitation that I would not have the opportunities, media relationships and clients I have now without my mentor teaching me how to tweet. I still occasionally reach out to her, even though I’m hundreds of miles in geography and industry away, but I will always be grateful for her guidance. It was from her I learned how to write succinctly, ask the right questions and work hard (with some proper snacks, of course).
I was one of the lucky ones – I found a mentor organically. But not every student has that opportunity to run into a great communications mentor early on. And in today’s world where companies make a living out of broadcasting noise to young professionals, telling them what to do, who to work for and where to live, it’s more important than ever for PR professionals to guide the next generation and shape the industry.
Think back on the one person in your early career that made a difference – the person that sat you down and taught you how to interface with a client or reach out to a journalist – that person that introduced you to your first job or first boss. Would that connection: would your nascent skill have been made possible without that one on one, personal connection?
Probably not – and it’s this cycle of mentorship, and eventually, sponsorship, is what helps turn a green college graduate or an entry-level employee into an engaged, present and invaluable part of the team.
At PRSA Silicon Valley, we’re experimenting with new ways to build that connection. We’re at the center of where new ways to communicate are invented all the time, so our mentorship program doesn’t just include 1:1 meetings between students and PR professionals, but a Facebook group where industry news and trends can be discussed between the PRSSA chapters from San Jose State and Santa Clara University and any PR pro that wishes to pay it forward for the next generation of communicators.