For those who don’t know the story of my undergraduate college search — it was pretty non-existent. Long story short: I was a nursing major, I applied to maybe four schools, WVU gave me the largest scholarship, I enrolled, changed my major in July before school because I’m deathly afraid of needles. I stepped on campus as a strategic communications major with an emphasis in public relations.
I had no idea what strategic communications or public relations were when I started my courses. My orientation course opened my eyes to the world of communications and marketing, and I realized I had a lot of options upon graduating, an overwhelming number of options. It’s great to do research, read job descriptions and take a variety of courses, but you still won’t be able to get a grasp of the full capacity of the industry this way. It was only when I was able to connect with people who were leading the industry and my high-achieving peers that I began to develop an idea of what my path could be in the vast world of marketing communications.
These connections, whether they be industry professionals, WVU alumni, internship supervisors, professors, advisors or senior peers, are my mentors. The relationships I have been able to build and the advice given to me have helped shape the young professional I am today.
Here is why you should make creating these relationships a priority, whether you’re a mentor or mentee:
Exposure to New Interests
Mentorship programs often match mentees and mentors based upon mutual interest. However, I have found some of my most beneficial mentor relationships are with those who have completely different careers than my current interests.
Marketing communications is a crucial part of all industries, meaning there is a seemingly endless number of opportunities out there. By talking with professionals who have had more time in the industry to explore different avenues, could open the door to positions and job titles you never considered. Through shadowing and exploring your mentor’s career path, you may find something new that piques your interest.
Additionally, talking with those who work in an unfamiliar area provides a fresh perspective. Include your mentor or mentee in the review of current projects. A fresh set of eyes with different experiences may add something to your project that you would have never considered.
Whether you’re an established professional or a rising star, networking is a crucial part of marketing communications. Not only do you directly gain a new connection by being paired with a mentor or mentee, but you now have the opportunity to, respectfully and with appropriate reason, ask this person about individuals in their network.
Young mentees can help connect professionals with a network of students or entry-level employees who may be job seeking. Personal recommendations from these networks can lead to strong internship and job applicants. Established mentors can offer opportunities to explore different careers by recommending mentees to connect with others in their network.
Professional Skill Development
Establishing new relationships can help build a resumé. Include your mentorship participation in job applications to highlight your ability to communicate with and engage junior-level professionals effectively. This experience can aid in applications for management roles and jobs that oversee interns.
For young professionals and students, adding participation in a mentorship program showcases that you can engage with established professionals confidently. Depending on your relationships with your mentor, you may even consider asking them to be a reference for job and scholarship applications.
Interested in expanding your network, want insider information on the industry, or
looking to share your knowledge?
Check out the WVU Marketing Communications Mentorship Program.
More About Emily:
Emily Zekonis ( @EmilyZekonis) is a graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications with an Area of Emphasis in Management. She is from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania. She holds a BSJ in Strategic Communications with an area of emphasis in Public Relations from West Virginia University. Follow along with her graduate adventures on the Marketing Communications Today blog.
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