Last night I had a pretty special dinner with a pretty special person out here in California. This person isn’t just an acquaintance or a friend or a past colleague. This is a person I hadn’t talked to in over two years. But it’s someone I’ve known for 1o.
I met her in 2000 at one of my first PRSSA meetings at Southwest Texas State. She and her friend had taken the time out of their work and family schedules to come down south and talk to students interested in careers in PR. It was that night that I met my mentor, Christina Moore.
So why write about a dinner? Why bring up old memories? It’s simple. I’m appreciative. I’m appreciative of a person who has taken her time to attend many lunches to hear me ramble on about my job, my life decisions, my goals, my adversities.
At the end of each meal after listening and carefully nodding, she would summarize and synthesize my thoughts, provide an example or two of similar situations and then suggest and encourage what options could be next for me. Always spot on and I was always appreciative.
I wrote this post not to detail a dinner or to bring up old memories, but to acknowledge the importance of finding a mentor early in your career and how nurturing the relationship could pay off. Based on my experience, I’ve complied a list of traits to look for in a mentor and what structure has worked for me.
Choosing a Mentor
- Seek a person that is at the level in the profession you aspire to achieve
- Choose a mentor that shares the same profession, but maybe has a different expertise. If you want to gain perspective of your situation, look for someone who has a different viewpoint.
- Communicate what you hope to achieve out of the mentor/mentee relationship and both agree on the desired goal.
- Schedule meetings in advance to put them on the calendar, even if something comes up, it’s easier to reschedule than to try and get on someone’s schedule.
- Prepare. Before meeting, do some homework and bring one or two issues that you’d like insight to. This helps guide the conversation and respects both of your times.
- Always stay connected.
To be completely honest while at dinner I didn’t follow my rules and I rambled. I talked about everything I could think of to catch her up on my career. Why? I’ve worked hard for many reasons, one being because I had a great example to emulate.