When I was starting a career as a journalist in my home country of Venezuela, looking for a mentor wasn’t really encouraged. Culturally it was a better idea to roll up your sleeves, do that job that seemed difficult or even impossible and carry on. Asking for help or advice in a formal way was not really a thing.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have great mentors there. Cynthia, Rosanna and Ángela were some of the women that made a long-lasting impact in my life. They were all my managers and believed I could not only write and be a go-getter, but were also there when I was confused and tired.
They set a high standard and I learned how to be better just by looking at how they worked. They were smart, rigorous and bold. They were also kind and humble.
After a few years living in the United States, I started noticing that mentorships were actually a thing: you could ask someone that you admired a lot to coach you, to show you the way, to guide you. “Bingo!” I thought. This was going to solve all of my questions about my next career steps and was going to enlighten my path in the very competitive US media landscape.
Well, it wasn’t quite as I expected it to be.
With every session that I had with Charo Henríquez, my fantastic mentor for this program, came more questions that didn’t necessarily produce immediate answers.
The thing is, Charo was not there to answer all of my questions. She was there to help me look within myself. Beyond listing my skills and learning about cover letter formats, she channelled me to think about my purpose, my passion, how I wanted to serve others and what I wanted to do for me, to make me happy.
Nope, I did not expect to take a full dive into myself. At times, the journey made me feel anxious. But Charo was there to teach me patience, a virtue she masters. She was there to tell me it was okay to feel lost, to want many things, to be interested in many others. It was okay because it’s part of the process. And you have to trust it.
But with the process comes responsibility. If you want progression, you have to show up for yourself. Besides generously sharing her own experiences, Charo was instrumental in introducing me to excellent training opportunities and teaching me the importance of documenting the journey.
I leave this remarkable program, where I met many other brilliant women, with more questions than answers. And I know that may be something you don’t want to hear. But that’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, this program helped me build a foundation that is meant to last and goes beyond the mere professional pursuit.
It introduced me to a resilient and strong community of women who, even in the middle of a global pandemic, showed up with intention and kindness.
I thank all of them. And I hope I can become a mentor too one day.