Caylan Hays is one of MP&F’s newest staff associates. Here’s her personal take on mentorship and why it is both meaningful and important.
I’ve heard it said before that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. To me, that ideal captures the essence of mentorship and what might motivate someone to act as a mentor.
It’s a great privilege to have been offered wisdom and guidance from people I admire, both personally and professionally. Mentorship doesn’t always come with the title, and sometimes you don’t know you’ve had a mentor until you look back and see how much of an impact someone had on you.
As a young professional, I’ve found that the most impactful moments in my short career have been those when someone farther up the ladder reaches down to offer a helping hand. It’s so pivotal because there’s nothing more encouraging than when someone you wish to be like looks at you and says, “I’ve been there.”
It took me time to learn this and put it into practice; but if someone offers to meet with you, they mean it. Don’t get me wrong – it can be daunting to reach out to an important person and ask for their time, but getting up the courage to do so makes all the difference.
Belmont University’s Public Relations Chair and Associate Professor Dr. Bonnie Riechert, one of my college instructors and mentors, recognizes the impact the department’s mentorship program has had on her students: “When professionals take the time to encourage and support emerging professionals, it enhances the profession as well as their career opportunities. Mentors are encouragers and advocates who help others succeed.”
This leads me to Keith Miles, a partner at MP&F, who has long been active with the local Public Relations Student Society of America. I was lucky to be paired with Keith as my PRSSA mentor at Belmont, due to our mutual interests in songwriting and PR. While it’s always a bit intimidating to initiate a meeting, Keith’s willingness and generosity of spirit made him easy to approach.
Keith’s passion for the job seems to be what drives him to help those who hope to follow in his footsteps. He truly embodies the word mentor and impacts young professionals in a way that makes the importance of mentorship undeniable.
I vividly recall something that Keith once said during one of our meetings that really stuck with me. He said, “I love what I do. I wake up and look forward to coming into work every single day.” It seems to me that the best mentors love their jobs so much they can’t help but share their experiences and encourage young professionals in their pursuits.
Keith was recently honored with the Public Relations Society of America Nashville chapter’s Hercules Award for his contributions to our profession. As part of the nomination process, I was honored to contribute my thoughts:
“I couldn’t have been paired with a better mentor my senior year of college. From our very first meeting, Keith was remarkably candid and easy to confide in about all things career related. He kindly shared his own stories with me and offered wisdom that brought me peace of mind in the job search. And even a year later, when I was nervous about changing directions in my career, not only did Keith help me translate who I am and what my skills are on paper, but his encouragement helped me believe in my own capabilities to take on a new challenge. Sometimes it just takes one person believing in you to spark that confidence and belief in yourself. I truly don’t think I’d be in the position that I am today without his guidance.”
As a staff associate at MP&F, I look forward to continuing our mentor-mentee relationship, developing new ones, and to one day hopefully getting the chance to pay it forward myself.