What is Mentoring Matters?
The College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Louis University is promoting a new Mentoring Matters initiative that aims to increase and improve mentoring activities across all departments. It is an initiative that the Department of Communication is wholeheartedly embracing.
Instead of simply holding one session to help students get to know their mentors, the department is providing five sessions on a number of topics communication students will likely find useful. Elizabeth Richard, the professor who is heading the initiative for the department, says she hopes the program draws more attention to the importance of students’ mentors and inspires students to meet with their mentors more often.
Richard says that juniors and seniors tend to be a little bit better about going to see mentors because those students tend to be a little more confident and comfortable. “The longer a student is around, the more they realize that professors love to talk to our students and we love to help our students. We think it is awesome when students come in and want to hear our opinion about how they might achieve career goals.”
In order to provide the best experience possible, the department created a committee that chose the five topics they felt received the most inquiries. They then divided the topics among themselves based on each professor’s area of expertise. “This is the first time we’ve done an organized series like this, so we hope students can benefit from this,” said Amber Hinsley, one of the professors presenting later this year.
The first session helped students in the department connect with their mentors and provided information to those students considering a
communication major or minor.
The second session, on Feb. 27, centered on internships. Bill Tyler, the professor in charge of the internship program for the department, talked about why students needed internships, how the department could help them and tips for applying to internships. He encouraged students who had questions to come find him. “[Internships] aren’t required. I wish they were because without an internship it’s very difficult…I want to emphasize the necessity of having one,” Tyler said.
Three sessions remain and department members are quick to stress they are open to everyone. The next session, on March 20, is titled Transitioning from College to Career. Amber Hinsley and four panelists will talk about resumes, tips for finding a job and will work with students on writing personal statements and resumes. The panelists have experience in journalism, broadcast news, PR, Event Planning and other television production.
On April 10, Mary Gould will present Going Digital, which will feature information on digital portfolios and resumes. Gould will talk through the process and rationale of creating a digital portfolio of work. She says it is never too early for students to start thinking about how they will collect and distribute the work they create – even if it is just for their own use. Her talk will include what tools to use when putting the portfolio together, what to include, what to avoid, design tips and more.
On April 24, Min Lee and Cindy Graville-Smith will present Making Your Network Work, where they will discuss how to properly manage social media, networking and crafting an appropriate online identity. Lee will cover pro-active ways to use social media to your advantage. Graville-Smith will be covering some of the ways attempts to brand yourself can backfire, what to do when that happens and other cautions for social media.
The professors hope that their sessions can benefit the students throughout their education and career. “My hope is that students start thinking about how the things they are doing now can benefit them in the future…I think this is an opportunity for students to think about the work they’re making as having a life outside of the classroom. I think a lot of our efforts in the classroom are not just to teach students how to use equipment or technology or software in this moment. We’re hoping that they take these tools we’re teaching them and apply them throughout their lives,” Gould said.
All sessions will be from noon to 1:00 p.m. in Xavier Hall 332.
If you enjoy learning more about communication, then good news: the department has already discussed ways they can continue Mentoring Matters in future semesters.
The professors involved hope that the sessions not only make students take a greater interest in visiting mentors, but also that it helps them professionally and reminds them about the welcoming nature of the department. “I want students in Communication to understand that this is their home and this is like their family…It’s not the kind of family that will bail you out of jail…but it is a community of people who are dedicated to making sure that the college experience is as good as it can be in terms of your development as someone who is going to be a professional,” Richard said. “We want to see you even if you don’t have a class with us…We want you to come hang out in the CMC. We want to see you sleeping on the benches on the second floor…The whole reason that all these professors and all this equipment is in the building is for you guys.”
If that doesn’t have you convinced, there’s a raffle drawing for prizes such as gift cards, and all you need to enter is attendance.