Following last week’s Plank Center Mentorship Awards banquet, I asked Kevin Saghy, winner of the Young Professional award, to reflect on the honor.
“Being recognized last Thursday felt a little strange because I’ve never volunteered or mentored to ‘receive credit.’ I don’t think any heartfelt mentor does,” Kevin said. “It was motivating to hear about the other recipients’ impact on the industry and I can only hope my efforts help motivate younger practitioners in the same way.
“I’ve heard younger professionals express hesitancy at being a mentor because they don’t feel they have much insight to offer compared to our more established managers,” Kevin observed. “While that may be true for some topics, I do believe young professionals can be even more valuable at times for students to speak with.”
Kevin says the fact young professionals have recently gone through the hiring process, they often see how the hiring process works from the employer’s side as well. In addition, younger staff can share exactly what an intern or junior staffer’s workday is like, which can help students tailor their application materials accordingly.
“I’ve never viewed myself as the smartest guy in the room,” Kevin said modestly. “However I do often feel that my recent experiences are well-suited to help others who are aspiring to advance their early careers in PR. This logic holds true in school as well. A senior PRSSA executive board member has a lot of insight to offer to a sophomore who plans to run for that same position someday. We all have an opportunity to pay it forward because of the successes and failures we’ve faced.” Kevin’s mentorship and coaching of Brandi Boatner helped her become national president of PRSSA–hence, her introduction of Kevin at the Plank Center event.
Kevin also knows the importance of not wasting a potential mentor’s time. “I’ve met with some students who think one coffee together equals a reference or internship offer. One recent meeting ended with a student asking, ‘So, I can put you on my list of references now, right?’ Not so much. I’ve also called a group of friends together for a PR student who seemed promising, only to find out he wanted to drink beer and watch sports. He hadn’t prepared a single question about our experiences in PR, leaving a poor impression with our group as a result and wasting the opportunity to learn from a few valuable resources.”
Good, relevant advice, Kevin. Congratulations.