I got my start through a mentor. I was studying journalism in college and when I took my first internship at a small community newspaper, I met my success mentor. Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams, the editor of The Voice, took me under her wing not only for the internship but throughout my career, hiring me after college to help develop her startup, a media company that included a newspaper, The New York Trend, and community TV show, Trend on TV. When I moved on, Dr. Williams was there. Today, she is still mentoring others.
“For almost 30 years I have provided an internship/mentoring program for aspiring journalists and communications students from colleges and universities throughout the New York tri-state area . I have offered these opportunities for deserving young people to provide them with immediate experience in the area of their choice and NOT requiring them to get coffee,” says Dr. Williams, CEO and Founder at TTW Associates Inc., in an interview. “I decided to be a mentor because I saw early on the benefits of my peers and the deficit I suffered by not having a mentor in my field. I saw that it provided many opportunities for networking and introductions to others in their chosen field.”
Dr. Williams has found her role as mentor continues over the years — even after those she’s mentored have earned their college degrees. “Mentoring is necessary because it provides a base for individuals to align themselves with,” she continues. “A mentor can provide that professional hug, word of encouragement and help them through,” she says. “I have watched young people rise in the journalism field. And hearing them tell me I gave them valuable training or I kept my word about the knowledge they would gain and that I provided…makes it will worthwhile.”
Veteran entertainment journalist Tonya Pendleton believes even if your mentee is still in grade school, having a mentoring relationship with her early on can help guide her through her career and her life. “I mentored because I don’t have kids and thought I could be helpful to someone who does and contribute to a child’s life. In fact, my mentee Natisha Romain contributed much more to mine. I absolutely recommend it formally or informally,” Pendleton, CEO of Amazon Ink, tells us. She helped through The Mentoring Partnership of New York.
Dr. Willise Riche discovered mentoring after she was approached by hospital staffers. The university students she worked with kept coming back. “Although I was mentoring, I really didn’t consider it officially until I realized that they were repeatedly returning for more advice and referring others,” Riche explains in an email.
Once she started mentoring, Riche realized how important a role she was playing in the lives of young people. “Having a mentor is necessary in any field. Mentorship is how trades have been passed down from the beginning of civilization. I think that mentorship is… a seamless merging of formal and traditional learning. One cannot learn experience from a book,” says Riche, who also produces a radio program targeted at women called “Maslow Woman.”