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The Benefits of Mentoring - and Being a Mentor

Coming from a small town in Appalachia Ohio to the big city, I was nervous about starting college. And my major. And schoolwork. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t have questions or worries about. 

But luckily, I was blessed with the guidance and wisdom of many mentors who helped me with pivotal life events – and even some not so pivotal moments where I just had a question or needed some quick advice.

Because I know I wouldn’t be where I am in my life without those mentors, I pay it forward through mentoring our next generation of PR professionals.

Mentoring is a powerful way to help young PR professionals. Research shows that there are many short-term and long-term benefits to mentoring.

Benefits for students:

  • Help with life questions and support. A mentor can help give practical advice, solve problems and provide encouragement. Conversations I’ve had over the years range from taking a job, to negotiating my salary and deciding between graduate school and starting a career.
  • Help with professional development. Have questions about resumes? Interviewing? Attire? A mentor can help with all of that – and more.
  • Gain insight into the field. When a mentor shares about everyday work – including accomplishments and challenges – it helps prepare students for what the “real world” looks like.
  • Expand your professional network. Mentors are great resources to help students meet others in the field who can ultimately connect them with future career opportunities.
  • Learn soft skills. Having a conversation with a complete stranger can be daunting. Meeting with a mentor and practicing follow up emailing a mentor builds those soft skills that are vitally important to the workplace.

 
Not only does the mentee benefit from a mentoring relationship, but I’ve gained many benefits from being a mentor. 

  • Fulfilment. Mentoring is my way to give back to all those people who have helped me. When I see a student I’m working with get a wonderful internship opportunity it’s a great feeling to know I played a part in that.
  • Insight into yourself. Talking about your own life experiences gives you insight into how you communicate and handle challenges in your life. It’s opened my eyes to how I could have better handled situations or how I’ve learned from these situations.
  • Leadership and communication skills. I’ve learned to hone my leadership and communication skills, which has helped at home, at work and in the community.
  • Learn something new. I learn something new about technology trends and how our future leaders think about our profession. It helps keep me young!
  • Making friends and colleagues for life. A lot of students I’ve worked with over the years have become my lifelong friends -- and even colleagues.

 

Stay tuned – in February we’re going to unveil a new program for students and professionals. 

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Happy 2020, Central Ohio PRSA!

Happy 2020 - and happy 70th anniversary to Central Ohio PRSA! As chapter president this year, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share what is in store for this exciting year.

Who am I?

Well, as you can see in the “from” address, I’m Katie Thomas! I joined PRSSA many years ago as a student at Otterbein University. Since taking that leap, PRSA has been one of the most valuable assets in my career. It’s allowed me to meet wonderful mentors; network with amazing professionals; stay on top of cutting edge technologies and trends; grow as a professional by getting my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and hone my leadership skills. I credit Central Ohio PRSA with much of what’s happened in my career. 

I’ve served PRSA in many roles, including:

  • National PRSA Mentor Committee Chair

  • PRSA Central Ohio Liaison Committee member

  • PRSA Central Ohio Programs Committee Chair

  • PRSA Central Ohio Board of Directors, Director at Large

  • PRSA Central Ohio Treasurer

  • PRSA Central Ohio President-Elect

  • Speaker at local PRSSA chapters and PRSSA PaRtners Conference 

Outside of my work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our dog, Rebel, and cats, Roary and Pippin, teaching spinning classes, watching musicals (just don’t ask me to sing them), reading and traveling (so excited to head to London this year!). 

 
Tiptoeing through the tulips in Amsterdam last year.


What’s in store for Central Ohio PRSA in 2020?

Last year, you had the opportunity to give feedback on our annual survey. We listened. 

  • You are most interested in programming. Last year, we started our successful Coffee Chats, free programs for members. These informal gatherings allow us to learn from professionals and network with our peers. We’ll continue these for 2020. Make sure to register for our January Coffee Chat now! 

  • You want to continue learning. In addition to Coffee Chats, we’ll offer quarterly luncheons, along with a revamped Annual Conference. Our first luncheon, February 20, goes behind the scenes of the Democratic Debate. On March 27, our Annual Conference, “The Modern Communicator,” will feature 14 fast-paced breakout sessions, a plenary address, and a keynote, all from the brightest minds in Central Ohio. Registration will open for both of these events soon. We’re also looking to enhance programming with Webinar Watch Parties -- more to come. And if you’ve been a member for 10+ years, you’re automatically part of our Master’s group, which offers free programming twice a year. Our Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) committee is also available to help you prepare for the APR process. 

  • You prefer to meet early or midday. We’ll offer our programming in the morning and at lunchtime, except for Meet the Media so we can continue to have local media personalities attend this event. 

  • Move the program locations around.We analyzed zip codes of where members live and work and plan to move programs to different venues and neighborhoods based on our findings. 

  • You want to network more. Expect some type of program from us each month. Whether that’s a Coffee Chat, luncheon, mixer, PRism Awards (which the committee is already working on some new ideas for this year!) or more, save your third Thursday each month for Central Ohio PRSA (with a few exceptions). 

  • We’ll continue to improve communication.We get it. Your inbox is overflowing. There’s so much on social media. We’ve audited our social media and are looking to streamline communication on those channels, through our website and through PRSA Matters, our biweekly newsletter that comes out the second and fourth Thursday of each month. We recently created a Members Only Facebook group so you can connect more with your peers and ask questions. We’ll also send calendar invites to remind you of upcoming events. 

In addition to all of these benefits, we’ll continue our quarterly podcast, “Good Morning, Communicators,” offering opportunities for students, including a new mentorship program for you to impact a student’s life and providing enriched learning on the topics of diversity, inclusion, and ethics.

I am also so proud that we started the Central Ohio PRSA Scholarship Fund last year, which allowed six students to continue their membership in PRSA; gave a stipend for one student to attend the PRSSA International Conference; and allowed several students to attend programming at no charge.

You get what you put into your PRSA membership. Attend an event. Write a blog post. Host a program. Work on a committee. Donate to the scholarship fund. There are plenty of ways to get involved and make an impact — for the future generation and for you.

I look forward to seeing you this year. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns or new ideas to explore. Let’s also connect on LinkedIn! 

Warm Regards,

Katie Thomas, APR

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