During my year as a Gwen Ifill Mentee for the International Women in Media Foundation, I became president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s New York City chapter, was selected to take part in the Poynter Women in Leadership cohort, and completed a Master’s degree in English Literature while juggling overnight hours as an associate producer for CBS News. My mentor Laura Wides-Munoz could not have come into my life at a better time. While this cohort of mentors and mentees were forced to connect virtually for the entire length of the program, Laura did everything possible to help me network, flesh out story pitches or simply remind me to breathe.
From the first day of meeting all the other mentees on Zoom, all the participants created an incredibly supportive space where we instantly bonded over what it meant to be women journalists during a pandemic year. What I most appreciate about this particular group was our ability to celebrate professional wins with one another even if it were expressed with an emoticon on Slack. Zoom calls were planned outside of the IWMF umbrella to catch up and discuss goal setting. Just knowing there were other women willing to be vulnerable and honest about where they were in their careers and how they were working on getting to the next step was incredibly valuable during a particularly isolating time in all of our lives. There were a few rough patches for us all but I truly felt we managed to keep one another anchored and moving forward.
I had a unique experience being matched with a mentor because the three names I provided were unavailable to dedicate the required time. I believe I was one of the only women to have been recommended a mentor through the IWMF and the process was fairly easy on my end (thanks to the IWMF for doing the heavy lifting of finding someone!) My mentor proved things happen for a reason because I cannot imagine going through the last year without her help and continued support. Being out of the office and working from home it has made it increasingly difficult to remain motivated but monthly check ins with both a mentor and cohort of hardworking mentees have helped enormously.