Are you interested in finding a marketing mentor? More information is available on our Mentorship page.
Guest post by Rebecca Silva, Chair of Social Media
Where would I be today if it were not for having great mentors?
Anyone who knows me knows that everything I do in my career is authentic, from the heart, and with the intent of making the world a better place. In my role as Chair of Social Media for the American Marketing Association of Houston, it’s my job to communicate the value we offer the Marketing community to the external audience. The most important way for me to do that, is to offer my complete support to the AMA Houston Mentorship program.
Once upon a time, I was finishing college with a degree in Marketing with minors in Economics and International Business. No one in my family ever put any particular value on education or professional achievement. I hadn’t set out to prove anything or be different or do better than anyone. I just figured when you graduated from high school you went to college, and that was that.
At the time, the economy was in terrible shape. I snatched the first job in Marketing I could find, packed up a moving van, and headed to Houston, Texas. Thinking that I would succeed like I always had and go live my big girl life, it never occurred to me that it was too good to be true. The company I had moved for was seriously unethical and the job did not work out. Obviously, it was just a matter of time until I found a better paying job at a better company who would treat me like I was the most wonderful thing since sliced bread. Spoiler alert: that’s not how it happened.
Holding down three jobs and applying for every halfway decent looking job I could find, doing the best I could with what I had to work with, it seemed like it was never going to get any easier. Even when I did find a good starter job, I thought my whole career was always going to be an endless cycle of working so hard for so little and that it was all just a giant waste of time.
Enter: my mentors. I met one of my two mentors through a professional networking event, and one through a lucky encounter.
My former boss invited me to a networking event and introduced me to Mike in 2015, who did Marketing for an oil & gas filtration equipment company. Over the years, he and I got together occasionally and talked about Marketing, our careers, our lives… He was always there to give me advice and guidance on a problem at work, point me to a resource to improve my skills as a young marketer, or refer me to someone who could help me with an issue. We became great friends, but I wouldn’t have known a mentor from a marshmallow at the time.
During the 2017 World Series I walked past a gentleman in an Astros hat in a restaurant on the way to the restroom. I said “hey, nice hat!” and went on about my evening, but later he and I struck up a conversation about the Astros, our careers, our lives… That’s how I met Gary. He and I got together every few weeks thereafter, especially when I had a situation at work that I did not know how to manage. On more than one occasion he has helped me with projects and presentations for work. He always gave me the benefit of his experience, and the mentorship relationship is more clearly defined, though we are also good friends.
Mike and Gary are two of the most important people in my life. Whenever anything good or bad happens with my career, they are the first people I call. They are both my mentors in different ways, providing different intangible value from different perspectives. Having people in my corner, there to support me through my career path, who are genuinely invested in my success, has been invaluable in ways I did not understand until I progressed much further in my professional life. Nothing would be the same without their help.
My career is going better than I ever thought it would be at this stage. The work I do fulfills me professionally and personally. I’ve discovered what I love to do and am learning more each day on how to go further and further.
Young marketers need hands-on training and work experience to get to the next stage of their careers, but they also need someone they can trust backing them up. I implore every young marketer out there to find a good mentor, within the marketing community or outside of it, and accept their advice for their own good.
You may ask, what can I offer a mentor in return? The answer is that you can be successful. What a mentor gets out of the relationship is the benefit of passing on their knowledge and wisdom, and watching you do great things that they can be proud of.
The only warning I may give you, is to treat the relationship with respect, and every relationship is different.
Listen to what they have to say.
Honor their time.
Be gracious and thankful.
Consider why they are investing in you.
Not every experienced marketer you meet will be interested in becoming a mentor, to you or anyone else. Rather than go search for someone you want to mentor you, as though you’re selling yourself as a mentee they didn’t know they wanted, focus on being the kind of young professional a good mentor would be interested in. As they say, when the student is ready, the master will appear.
It helps greatly when you know of someone that is looking for their future mentee to come up, which is where the AMA Houston Mentorship Program can help. We know how to help a mentor and mentee start off on the right foot and spark up a great relationship. There is no better way to get on the fast track to a successful future.