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Building relationships, sparking possibilities

Posted September 24, 2015
By Anna Kate Twitty, SJMC '07, Account Manager, Cyberwoven

Each year, students from the College of Information and Communications begin a journey of building the foundations of their professional networks through the College’s year-long Mentor Match program. The program pairs current students and alumni from both the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the School of Library and Information Science for a year of mentoring, networking and professional development.

The annual program kicks off every fall with a matching event, somewhat of a “speed dating” experience.  The purpose of this event is to have the students and mentors meet for the first time, get to know one another and determine the best mentorship fit. 

For senior public relations student Raven Ellis, meeting USC graduates at the kick-off event was an experience that helped connect her undergraduate studies to potential careers.    

“The best part about the mentor match night was that the mentors graduated from USC, which was quite the inspiration,” said Ellis.  

Raven is one of 30 students who attended the Sept. 10 event inside the walls of the brand new journalism school.  Each student met with USC graduates who are currently using their degrees in a variety of professions – ranging from public relations directors and reporters to graphic designers, advertising executives and librarians.  

“The mentor match night was a great way to connect students with potential mentors,” said Ellis. “The experience opened my eyes to how many opportunities are out there for graduates.  I enjoyed meeting public relations professionals and hearing about the career choices that have led them to where they are today.”

“I think mentor-mentee relationships are very important and can contribute a large deal to both individuals,” said Ellis. 

Mentor Match is not only beneficial for students.  In fact, the program can be equally as rewarding for the mentors.  It’s an avenue for alumni to get involved with students and stay connected with their alma mater.

Since 2008, J-school alumna Chrysti Shain has been volunteering and helping lead the way for the Mentor Match program – growing it year after year.  Shain has been positively affected by several mentors throughout her career and knows the benefit of relationships and building strong networks.  She feels as if this program is her calling to pay it forward.

“I've been fortunate to have several great mentors in my career,” said Shain.  “One mentor taught me how to analyze a situation and ask better questions. Another taught me how to be a manager, make hard decisions and lead people. I often joke that one even introduced me to my husband.”

Hopefully, the Mentor Match connections formed will far exceed the year-long program.  The college hopes to build new relationships and spark endless possibilities among its students and alumni for many years to come.

“I've worked with several students over the years, and I still hear from one of them often,” said Shain. “Sometimes it's just a Snapchat about the Gamecocks, but other times, it's about a story he's working on or a complicated situation he's facing. It's always a great reminder to me about the value of this program.” 


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