In October 2020, I didn’t get a fellowship that I had my heart set on. My mentor through the IWMF Gwen Ifill Mentorship Program was one of the first people I told. She was there to listen and regroup with me. “The quicker we can get through with the Nos, the quicker we can arrive at the Yeses. And I know for sure there are plenty of opportunities with a whole lot of yeses in your near future,” is what she told me.
Participating in the program was not only one of the highlights of my year but also a pivotal marker in my career. I was able to gain clarity and confidence in every aspect of my professional life. My mentor encouraged me to celebrate my work and myself, which is something I rarely did before being accepted into the program.
I entered the IWMF community needing guidance on how to make my voice be heard and understood. I gained that and more. For example, when I needed more support from my manager, my mentor told me, “you can’t change personalities but you can change behaviors” and gave me specific tools and talking points on how I can manage up formally and informally. She was full of gems and I kept a collection of sticky notes with her quotes and affirmations.
Throughout the program, I knew my mentor cared about me as a professional and as a person. Before I covered the choactic and tense presidential election in Philadelphia, we outlined interview questions I would ask voters while I was there. And throughout the week she regularly checked in on me making sure I was safe.
My fellowship cohort formed a strong bond and support system with each other. We brainstormed our goals together, became accountability partners and each others Zoom wedding attendees.
The IWMF staff, my mentor and fellow mentees taught me how to hone my expertise, curiosity and interests to reach whatever career pursuits I have. And I’m forever grateful to have had this experience.