Mentoring — A way to give back in your profession

By Denise Wilson and Jaily Hernandez  

Mentor’s Perspective: 
Servant leaders have always inspired me throughout my career. A big attribute of servant leadership is giving back and mentoring others. I have been very fortunate in my life to have some amazing mentors that have influenced and molded my career. Some of these mentoring relationships were through a formal program but most were informal with people I admired in my existing network. One of the most influential mentors in my career was Jim DeSimone at Darden Restaurants. He was a coach, teacher and public relations expert, and he saw something in me when I was a young professional that I didn’t see in my self. It reminded me of Oprah Winfrey’s quote, "A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

After gaining several years of communications experience, I felt it was time to give back. I briefly met my mentee, Jaily Hernandez, a couple of months ago at the PRSSA “Panel with the Pros” session at the University of South Florida. We were later paired as part of the USF PRSSA Mentoring Program. Jaily is a creative-thinker, go-getter, South Florida girl and leader within her PRSSA group. I was honored to be her mentor. She quickly reached out to me, and we set up our mentoring meetings. It has been a rewarding experience for both of us.

Mentee’s Perspective:
Having just switched my major last semester from criminology to advertising, I was looking for guidance. Since I was only a beginner, I thought having a mentor would be a great learning experience. When the opportunity presented itself, I quickly leaped at the chance. My mentor, Denise Wilson, has been able to give me insight from her experiences, which I find extremely valuable. Some things you just can’t learn from a textbook. 

The portion of the mentorship that I have found most enlightening is having the opportunity to self-reflect. This has led me to discover my inclination toward the creative process. Denise helped me analyze my strengths and opportunities. We sat down, and I considered the top five strengths I possess as well as areas in which I can improve. She explained that this process will allow me to understand where I can best apply my skills. Not to mention, once these strengths are identified, they can be incorporated into a resume and LinkedIn profile. One of the most important things I learned was how to build a personal brand on social media and how to reach out to other professionals.

Establishing tasks to accomplish by our each meeting made our mentorship productive. Tasks could be something small such as Denise looking over my LinkedIn profile or providing internship ideas. My tasks would usually involve researching what agencies would best suit my skill set. By staying committed to our respective roles, we not only maintain a productive mentorship, but we also enjoy the experience as mentor and mentee.

Below are some quick tips on how to navigate a successful mentor relationship from a mentor vs. mentee perspective.


  • Set up a monthly meeting, and stick to it.
  • Help your mentee understand what their strengths are − this will help in the interview process.
  • Provide networking opportunities or internship ideas.
  • Review your mentee’s resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio.
  • Most of all listen and provide valuable advice for your mentee. You might learn something new in the process too!


  • Reach out to your mentor and commit to all meetings.
  • Set goals you wish to accomplish, such as obtaining an internship or job.
  • Be open to constructive criticism.
  • Complete any tasks you and your mentor agree to work on.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions − mentors are there to help.

We encourage all professionals and students to be part of the USF PRSSA Mentor Program.  For mentors, it is way to give back and share your knowledge with young professionals. Students make a connection and have an opportunity to learn from someone in the industry. This is a fruitful experience for both parties.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please reach out to PRSA Member, Davina Gould, APR at [email protected].

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