Oh, to be young again!

by mentor Jerry Topczewski, APR

During my public relations career, I have worked with many people I admired, but I never had a “mentor.” I wish I did. Why? Because there is so much to learn from the people around us and having the opportunity to seek wisdom and counsel from an “elder statesman”can be invaluable. 

One reason I never developed a mentor relationship was I didn’t know how to approach a potential mentor.  As a young pro, I had a fear of failure, as many new professionals experience.  But, that fear led to a stubbornness of not wanting to ask questions or to admit that: 1) I didn’t know something; 2) I wasn’t qualified to do something; or, 3) I wasn’t competent to achieve something. 

The PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter mentor program eliminates those fears and replaces them with a view that these young pros seeking mentors are motivated to be successful in their careers. My young pro and I try to meet once a month for breakfast and our conversations range from what’s in the news to what we are working on to where we are going on vacation. 

I am impressed by her enthusiasm, professionalism, poise and confidence.  Besides sharing from my career experiences, I have tried to introduce her to people within our profession she might not otherwise have a chance to meet and to settings outside public relations where professionals interact. Most importantly, I try to listen to her experiences.

Being a mentor has helped me, too, giving me a chance to learn from my young pro, learning how technology is part of her work day and how she views our profession and the opportunities it presents.  It has also helped me get a better insight on some of the younger professionals in my own organization. 

Her enthusiasm is contagious and energizes me, staving off some of those cynical views of work, profession and career that are earned over time.

Oh, to be young again!