Mentoring (and Caring) for Ad Students
by Dr. Alice Kendrick, Marriott Professor of Advertising
Do you have a mentor? Who is that person? A professor? Professional? This is a question worth asking and a goal worth pursuing.
Research indicates that having a mentor can contribute to not only career success but also to psychological and physical well-being. Yet only about one in five college graduates claim to have had a mentor while in school, according to a 2014 Gallup-Purdue survey. Having someone “who encouraged me to pursue goals and dreams” makes a student twice as likely to enjoy an engaging career, according to that study. There isn’t a lot of research about advertising mentors specifically, though a survey of business students at a northeastern university and alumni 3-5 years out (D’Abate 2010) found that mentoring provided short-term psychosocial support and also advanced mentees’ career development and business knowledge in the first five years on the job.
A study in the late 1990s found that minority advertising students reported they wished they had mentors while in college as well as later in the workplace. About half of the students in a 2008 study of university ad club chapter members said they had mentors, and in many cases those mentors were college professors. In a related finding, the Gallup-Purdue study reported graduates were almost twice as likely to achieve an engaging work life if “My professors at [College] cared about me as a person.” (p. 10)
The advertising employment landscape can be complicated, and unlike some areas of study and work like engineering and investment banking, hiring opportunities don’t follow a specified pattern. That means that ad students looking to enter the ad industry could benefit from guidance and support of a mentor or mentors along the way. And while professors often serve as defacto mentors for students, there are many other sources of mentors such as members of local professional advertising clubs, speakers who visit campus, internship supervisors, university alumni and family friends and acquaintances. Students and faculty should seek as many opportunities as possible to enjoin professionals beyond the university to augment student learning, networking and pre-employment socialization. Professional role models and professional relationships are a key ingredient to a successful career.
Kendrick, Alice, Jami Fullerton and Mallorie Rodak (2010), “Advertising student interns: Career preferences and ethical issues,” Journal of Advertising Education, 14(2), 42-51.
The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report (2014). Great Jobs. Great Lives. Gallup, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/gallup-purdue-index-releases-inaugural-findings-of-national-landmark-study.html
Fullerton, Jami, Alice Kendrick and Connie Frazier (2007), “Job Satisfaction Among Minority Advertising Professionals.” Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication national conference, August, Washington DC.
D’Abate, C. (2010), “Developmental Interactions for Business Students: Do They Make a Difference?” Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies May, 17(2), 143-155.