During the 2014-2015 academic year, the University of Oregon’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter launched two mentorship programs in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC).
The Peer Mentorship Program is open to all students, and it pairs students with a peer mentor or a mentee. Applicants are required to submit a cover letter, a resume and an application package. The Professional Mentorship Program selects students to be paired with public relations professionals. The program aims to enhance students’ public relations education by giving them professional insight, according to the PRSSA.
Last year, public relations instructor Connie Chandler was named the new faculty adviser to the PRSSA. “In my new role, I recognized the mentorship programs as ideal ways for UO PRSSA to expand the value it adds for students—both members and nonmembers,” she said.
Chandler worked with a UO PRSSA officer to develop a proposal for the Peer Mentorship Program and discovered that such a program had been of interest to the faculty for a while. “I have often observed in my classrooms how helpful students can be to one another in the learning process,” she says. “The Peer Mentorship Program gives students a more formalized way to mentor or be mentored, and it also provides an opportunity for the officers of UO PRSSA to gain valuable leadership skills as they implement the program.”
SOJC students Karly Tarsia and Tyler Ogoshi, both incoming seniors and public relations majors, were selected as mentees for PRSSA mentorship programs last year.
Tarsia was paired with professional mentor and SOJC graduate Cassie Bates, who works in development for the non-profit Oregon Bach Festival, and learned to search for internships and ways to strengthen professional connections. “While that was a small part of my mentee experience, most importantly, my mentor made me see I had enough experience to be a mentor myself,” Tarsia says. “After my first term participating in this program, I transitioned from mentee to mentor.”
Bates says she enjoys community service and thinks the program was a great fit. “Thinking back, I wish I had a mentor who had went through the same program at SOJC, which would have provided the insider information on the job market and tips on how to succeed,” she says. “I think this is a great way for PRSSA to give back to members and engage working professionals in the UO (student) community.”
Tarsia is the external events director for PRSSA and signed up because she wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities the PRSSA offered. “A huge part of the success of this program for me was not what I could take away from it, but rather what I could give to someone else,” she says.
Tyler Ogoshi participated in the PRSSA Peer Mentorship Program because he knew it offered him the opportunity to connect with some of the brightest public relations majors. “As a mentee, I feel like the main take away from the program was being able to contact and ask questions of a fellow peer who has gone through, or is going through, the same things I am,” he says. “Just being able to ask a wide range of questions ranging from something as simple as how difficult a certain class is, to what is the best way to construct your professional portfolio, really helped with putting my best self forward.”
Ogoshi was paired with student mentor Lindsey Simmons, whom he also worked with at Duck TV. “During the program, I networked with my fellow peers, learned about the field, and most importantly, made new friends who share the same passion for public relations and all things UO.”
Karly Tarsia plans to participate in the Peer Mentorship Program for a second year. “I hope to continue being a mentor in this program, and I would encourage younger PR students to get involved. It is a great way to get to know older students in your major who can really benefit you down the line,” she says.
Story by Corinne Boyer, MS ‘15