“You don’t get anywhere in life without the help of others,” said Rasmussen College Media Relations Manager Naomi McDonald.
Who do you ask for help when things get tough? Who do you look up to or admire in your field of study? Most importantly – who do you turn to for real-world advice? If you can’t answer these questions, you should consider finding a mentor.
A mentor is a trustworthy adult who supports and guides you along your path to success. They’re experts in their fields – knowledge that can take years to get. Some schools and organizations have mentoring programs to connect you to adults or peers, but you can also find a mentor on your own. That’s what McDonald did as a journalism student at the University of Minnesota. She’s worked in media for 13 years; seven television stations as both a reporter and producer before transitioning to a career in media relations.
“I would not be as successful as I have been in my career without my mentors,” said McDonald. So where do you find a mentor? McDonald says the first thing you need to do is align yourself with someone you admire in the career you want.
“I watched WCCO-TV every night and knew I’d love to work there someday,” said McDonald. “I researched their website and discovered they were looking for interns. I sent my resume and followed up. I was persistent and got the internship.” McDonald says she also reached out to her professors. She asked them to write letters of recommendation and aid in her efforts to get an internship.
“My first mentors were my journalism professors,” said McDonald. “I asked them to introduce me to experts in the journalism field. I made it known I was passionate about working in media.” During her internship, McDonald says she built strong relationships with people in the newsroom who became her mentors. She didn’t just get them coffee or carry their scripts, she learned reporting techniques needed to put together a strong resume reel that helped her land her first TV job.
“A mentor gives you an inside look at what your life might be like someday,” said McDonald. “One of the most important lessons I learned from my college mentors was the news world is not glamorous. What you do in the classroom is only as good as how you apply it to the real-world.”
Once you find a mentor, it’s up to you to keep that relationship going. McDonald still keeps in touch with her college mentors – some come to her for career advice.
“I went back to them for guidance when I decided to make a career change to media relations,” said McDonald. “You never know when you will need that connection again, and hopefully, you will one day be able to return the favor.”
If you would like a mentor, your school’s career services department can help. At Rasmussen College, Career Services Advisors will teach you networking strategies and tactics that will help you connect with a mentor and get the most out of the relationship.