We’ve all felt that feeling as a freshman; you’re lost, confused and lonely when you first arrive in Athens, especially if you don’t know anyone on campus. I can admit that as a freshman last year, I had no idea what to do with my major and didn’t know anyone who could help me. I wanted to get involved to meet new people by joining organizations so I could gain PR experience. Little did I know that my future PR mentor was someone I looked up to in high school four years ago.
I first met Darby Fledderjohn, a senior PR student, in high school as a sophomore in our journalism class. Darby was a senior and editor-in-chief of our high school’s yearbook. I joined the staff that year and looked up to Darby’s dedication and love for the publication. I admired her hard work the entire year and because of that, I knew I wanted to be editor-in-chief when I became a senior.
Darby and I kept in touch every now and then when she went off to college. I was accepted into Scripps my senior year of high school and was thrilled to know an upperclassman. At that time, I knew I wanted to write so I became a news and information major. However, my mind quickly changed and I switched to the strategic communication track two weeks into my freshman year. I have never been so happy with my decision.
I joined PRSSA to gain experience in the PR field and prepare for future internships. PRSSA offered a mentor/mentee program in the beginning of the year and I immediately thought of Darby. Fortunately, Darby became my mentor that year and she has helped me through so much.
Here are 3 ways having a PR mentor has helped me:
1. Scheduling. As a freshman, I struggled finding classes to take because I did not know which classes were most beneficial for my major. I didn’t know which professors to avoid or take.
Asking Darby to help me with scheduling over coffee in the Front Room was a great decision. She was able to help me pick the classes that were more important and which professors she learned best from. It was a comfort for me knowing that she was looking out for me and making sure I took the best classes possible for success.
2. Advice. A mentor will not only help you with schoolwork, but also with advice about school and life in general. I found myself multiple times texting Darby late at night asking about what to put on my LinkedIn page or resume. She was the first one I talked to when I was interviewed to be on MTV’s True Life. She was the first one I talked to about internships. It was so helpful to know that if I ever had a question about PR, internships, classes or just life in general, Darby would always be there for me.
3. Another Friend. A mentor is just another name for a friend. Darby and I were friends in high school but I feel that we have grown closer as friends ever since she became my PR mentor. We both have the same taste in TV shows (Catfish and Breaking Bad) and know each others likes and dislikes (Darby is obsessed with otters and pugs, but mostly otters). I looked up to Darby in high school but I look up to her now more than ever simply because she helped me through my awkward stage as a freshman and has made me fall even more in love with PR.
I am so sad that this is my last year with her as my mentor, but I am so excited to become a mentor myself and help another freshman just like how Darby helped me. Without Darby, I would not have had the confidence needed for this major. I have her to thank for being such a great friend and an influential person in my life. A mentor/mentee relationship has been one of the best decisions I have made at Ohio University and I recommend the program to anyone looking for guidance in PR.
-Alyssa Keefe is a sophomore studying strategic communication. Follow her at @lyssakeefe.