Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CPRS mentorship program

Canadian Public Relations Society Mentorship Program 2017

In early October, Tim introduced the class to CPRS - otherwise known as Canadian Public Relations Society. As a student, only a month into the program who has done little to no networking before, this sounded way too professional for me to partake in. However, Tim also invited Daryl Barnhart, a current member of CPRS and an Accredited Public Relations Professional to speak to our class about the organization and the mentorship program it facilitates each year. Daryl's presentation was convincing, none the less, but I still found myself unsure if I was quite ready and/or confident enough to join. Fast forward a few weeks and I was sitting in an interview for an internship with Niagara Health OneFoundation, where I was yet again told about CPRS and the mentorship program - and how good of a fit I'd be. Finally I gave in and joined as a member of CPRS; I even went a little further and applied to be a mentee in this year's mentorship program.

After very excitingly being chosen as a mentee, I prepared for the first event where I'd meet all the mentors. After spending hours of my afternoon googling each name provided to me and making a list on my phone's notepad of every person and what they've done for the past fifteen years of their life, I headed out. Truthfully, I walked in the front door of the St. Catharines General and still wasn't convinced I belonged at such an event. However, my nerves were eased when I saw two familiar faces - Alana and Kim from class. While waiting for the hosts to come greet us, we all stood in the entryway and talked about a variety of things as other mentees arrived. At one point, another mentee approached the group of us and said; "Are you guys here for CPRS? I assumed so, you all look nice so that's how I know you're PR people." At this comment I laughed, but I also reflected; looking around at the group of people I was with, she wasn't wrong, and I was happy for that.

The speed mentoring event is one I'll never forget. As mentee's, we rotated (much like musical chairs) to sit and spend a strict three minutes with each of the dozen mentors. In that time we were forced to get down to the nitty gritty: why we're here, what we want from it, where we see ourselves in ten years. I made some contacts that I have since been in touch with, and I learned about some industries that I have absolutely no interest in. At the end of the night, each mentee and mentor had to fill out a sheet with our top three selections to be paired with. 

About a week later, I got a email confirming that I had been paired with Andrew, an (at the time) Communications Advisor at the Niagara Region. He is now a Media Communications Advisor for Niagara College. 

Since this time, I have met with Andrew and talked all things PR. He's agreed to compile any interesting work or projects he and/or his team does to bring to each of our get-togethers. As well, we have made plans for me to come and tour his office, as well as accompany him to any events he thinks would be interesting from a communications perspective. In return, I have been compiling my own school notes for him to review - as he believes his schooling was not quite sufficient and is interesting in learning what I am.

All in all, I am interested to see what this year has to bring and what CPRS has to offer me - as well as what I can, now and in the future, offer it. I truly believe that PR, although a great program with Tim in the classroom, is about much more. As future communicators, we will be paid to do exactly that - communicate and have the connections needed, so why not start now?
I would advise any future PR student, or even current PR practitioners to join CPRS and attend their many social and/or networking events. I know it's something I plan to stick with for quite some time.

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