Mentoring is an effective method of professional development. It encourages growth and motivation, improves productivity and engagement, facilitates connection between the participants, strengthens the community and collective identity of women, helps expand the network of professional contacts, creates opportunities for cooperation and exchange of ideas and contributes to strengthening self-confidence.
We ran a two-month pilot mentoring programme between February and April 2021, to empower women in the media. Fifteen mentees and six experienced mentors from six countries of the Western Balkans took part. The mentees were matched to a mentor with experience in the media. The mentors offered advice on any challenges but also shared their knowledge, experience and networks to support their mentee. This was an opportunity to learn, ask questions and experience different points of view.
Mentees met with their mentors twice a week to work on personal and professional development goals. The mentees also participated in workshops and consultations to exchange their experiences, reflect on the mentoring process and network with each other.
Meet the Mentors
We worked with journalists from across the region with experience in a range of media and paired them with mentees from different countries. At the end of the programme we asked the mentors to reflect on their experiences. All of the mentors chose to take part because they wanted to help the younger generation but they also found that they learnt from their mentees.
What our mentors and mentees had to say about the programme
Mentee - Jeta Selmanaj (KOS)
'Elira has worked in so many media and I've learned so much from her, especially when we talked about her "mistakes" through the years, that was the exactly what I'm going through. Living only in one small place as Kosovo, I didn't have confidence and opportunity to challenge myself in a different ways. For me, seemed impossible to go out of Kosovo, meet new people, see a different cultures and learn new things. Thanks to Elira's support, I applied for a fellowships I dreamed about and I found many programs out of Kosovo. I can't wait to go to Albania and meet Elira in person.'
Mentor - Elira Çanga (ALB)
'In Jeta I saw myself when I have been a young reporter. We have both done the same path and covered the same topics as young reporters. Jeta faced challenges I also faced in my first years in journalism and sincerely, I saw in her the light and the passion I had when I started this profession 20 years ago. Talking and discussing with her gave me the possibility to be a better listener, kind of do a resume of my professional life and made my experience valuable to her. We have been very collaborative and actually I couldn’t wait to meet her during the week. I really enjoyed all the workshops, meetings and consultations as an opportunity to grow, learn more, gain excellent friends and colleagues and share challenges, thoughts and opinions with them. '
Mentee - Željka Zvicer (MNE)
'Valbona‘s experience and knowledge was extremely helpful, considering daily challenges and articles I had to write. She gave me practical tips, advised how to approach a subject and how to do an interview with domestic violence victims. I wrote my stories and they brought me my first real contract! She also supported me when I had to report about election day in my home town - it was my first time so her advices were so helpful. Beside Valbona, I have virtually met some amazing women and I was part of Nejra's – another mentee from the programme, story. Everything I needed this programme gave me - support, friends and achieved goals. It came for me when I most needed it - at the very beginning of my career. Everyone should have this experience. Mentoring is always needed!'
Mentor - Valbona Sulçe (ALB)
'It has been a very nice experience, because Željka was very committed to make this relationship work. She used every opportunity to ask, reflect, pose questions and turn them into action. She managed to find time for our meetings although very busy with her work and this showed determination on her part to conclude this program at the best way. I discovered that young journalists across the Balkans share the same challenges, but also the same ambitions to excel and make journalism important again. She managed to fulfil both goals in a relatively short time and this tells a lot about the temperament of Željka to work relentlessly towards her goals. We agreed to stay in touch and collaborate on common projects we might have in the future. '