What is a mentoring scheme? Put simply, the scheme pairs undergraduates interested in PR with local PR professionals. The aim is to help nurture new entrants into the profession, aiding the transition from student to PR professional.
Much of the CIPR's work is focused on raising the skills level of the profession. The CIPR South West group are keen to help develop the industry's future talent, as well as ensure that students hoping to work in PR have a full understanding of the industry and the skills required. The end result will be graduates who are more employable, benefiting both students and employers.
Benefits to the mentee
Students accepted onto the scheme benefit from regular contact with a PR professional in the region, with at least three mentoring sessions during the academic year. They gain access to advice on skill development, job hunting, career development and different areas and roles within industry. If appropriate, students may use these sessions to discuss assignments for a PR-related degree.
If three face-to-face meetings cannot be arranged, then both the mentor and mentee may opt to talk over the phone or email each other. Each meeting will last up to an hour.
Every mentee is offered at least one week's work experience with their mentor. This allows them to gain an on-the-ground insight into PR, develop their skills in a practical environment and enhance their CV.
Benefits to the mentor
The mentor has the opportunity to establish links with the region's academic institutions, and possibly establish contact with potential employees. For some, mentoring may also be an opportunity to develop line management skills.
In addition, the time given to the scheme counts towards Continuing Professional Development. Mentors can register up to 10 hours on their Developing Excellence record.
The mentor's role
The mentor must be a CIPR member in the South West region, be working full-time in PR, and have at least two years' experience. Current mentors range from senior consultants to those working in PR and communications departments.
The mentor is expected to meet with the mentee at least three times during the academic year. The timing of these meetings can be agreed between the pair. However it is recommended that they be spread equally throughout the year. There is no strict agenda for each meeting, but the mentee should have the opportunity to research aspects of working in PR – in order to help bridge the gap between academic studies and employment.
The mentee's role
The mentee can be an undergraduate at any of the region's universities, but must be a CIPR member, or be applying to join, at the time of their application. (CIPR membership is available to students at a discounted rate of £35).
The mentee is expected to attend all three planned meetings and to complete at least a week's work experience with the mentor's organisation.
The mentee is expected to prepare for the meetings and to use them as an opportunity to discuss an aspect of working in PR. This may be connected to a particular assignment, or could be general advice on job hunting and PR skills.
Matching mentors and mentees
Where possible, mentees will be paired with mentors based near the university at which the mentee is studying. Contact is most likely to occur during term time, but meetings or work experience can be arranged at a time to suit both parties.
Please note that it may not always be possible to pair mentees with mentors who are based nearby.
Once paired, mentees and mentors will be introduced at an informal event.
Could you support the mentoring scheme?
The CIPR West of England is still looking for mentors and mentees. Are you in the early stages of your career (or currently studying to work in PR) and looking for guidance from a senior practitioner? Perhaps you've worked in PR for many years and feel that others could benefit from your experience. Either way, we'd love to invite you join the mentoring scheme. For more information, email Tom Bowden-Green at Tom.Bowden-Green@grayling.com.