Lessons Learned in Mentorship

At Brookline PR we are always eager to provide students and young professionals entering the market the opportunity to intern, job shadow or work closely with a mentor. Anyone who has ever interned before (myself included) knows what a grueling process it can be and without a stellar mentor the positive experience can be lost.  Having mentored for quite some time and often reflecting with colleagues on the process, there is a general consensus that mentoring doesn’t simply involve telling a bright-eyed, eager mentee what to do but often entails taking the time to be aware of simple actions that can have a profound impact. In the last couple of months I have identified a couple of key practices, specifically related to agency-life, which at times seem obvious but can often be overlooked.

Be conscientious of your actions. A mentee is like a sponge. They look to you for guidance and leadership not only on work-related tasks but on practices such as office etiquette, client interaction and how to conduct one’s self in a business setting. What you may think is a normal, earned right (such as taking a personal call or an approved extended lunch) may seem like everyday practice to an impressionable mentee. If you expect certain guidelines to be followed, ensure you practice them yourself.

Outline your expectations. Agency life often includes a number of perks that can hypnotize a mentee into thinking that this is how it is from day one. Those perks often are the result of hard work and dedication to your practice and it is important to convey that early on. Every mentor that I have considered instrumental in my career as a PR practitioner has always outlined what they expect and what delivering those expectations will achieve. We have all had those experiences with a mentee saying “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that” or “I didn’t know that was your expectation.” Outline what will make them successful from the onset, leaving no room for doubt. Encourage them to perform at their very best from the beginning and show them how they can reap the rewards of hard work.

Take the time to teach. There is an unwritten praise for those who can jump in and be a part of the team from the moment they walk in the door. It is important to remember that no matter how good a new mentee is or how natural the process may come to them, even the best need guidance. Take the time to review everyday processes with your mentee and share with them tips and tricks they otherwise would not have known. Some of the best teaching moments I have had are when a mentee will point out a flaw in something that I am accustomed to doing. It is a reciprocal relationship and taking the time to teach, more often than not, educates you more than you could ever educate them.

Check-in.  It seems like an easy concept – check-in to make sure everything is okay. Any mentor can tell you that is easier said than done. The everyday grind can make it easy to put off a meeting with your mentee; however, what is often forgotten is that a mentee sees these meetings as a valuable part of the process. Just as you would look forward to your scheduled evaluations with your boss, a mentee looks forward to your thoughts and input on their progress. Make check-in appointments a part of your routine and something that you also look forward to. Let them know that they are just as important as your most valued client and your mentee is sure to recognize the importance of their work.

Stay on their team. Anyone who has ever worked at an agency knows that there is no such thing as a “slow day” and that an intern is usually thrown into the mix from the moment they start. At any given point, a mentee can be working on multiple projects which are evaluated and critiqued by fellow colleagues. Sometimes it is a job well done but other times they may need additional guidance. As a mentor, it is your job to manage the expectations and concerns of your colleagues, and despite their frustrations remind them of the all too familiar learning curve. It is your duty to stay on your mentee’s team and always ensure they feel supported.

– Alisha Samnani is an Account Executive at Brookline Public Relations and enhances the team with her strong social media, event management, media relations and corporate communications expertise. Alisha helps to manage and support a number of accounts with broad experience in hospitality and tourism, real estate, lifestyle and consumer PR.

Comments are closed.