WOUB Mentor and student on Zoom call
Mentor Joe Focke, who graduated from Ohio University in 1973 and went on to have a successful on-air career as a feature reporter in Norfolk, Virginia, was paired with WOUB senior student Anna Azallion.

WOUB Mentorship Program has Positive Impact on Students and Mentors

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New Initiative Launched in January

ATHENS, OH – As some recent WOUB students and Ohio University graduates go out into the world to start their careers, they are not doing it alone. That’s because they have a WOUB mentor helping them every step of the way.

Back in January, WOUB launched the WOUB Mentoring Program. The new initiative paired current junior and senior students working at the station with former WOUB students who have already used the skills they learned while working at WOUB to launch successful careers. Where possible, the current students were paired with mentors who were already working in media positions the students were interested in pursuing.

“Once you work at WOUB as a student, you are part of a family,” said WOUB Community Engagement Manager Cheri Russo. “When members of our former student engagement group suggested this mentoring program to us, it made total sense. Networking and connections are crucial in getting a job and moving up in the media industry. And making it possible for current students to learn from and connect with former students who have so much valuable experience and advice to give, it was a no-brainer.”

Mentor Joe Focke, who graduated from Ohio University in 1973 and went on to have a successful on-air career as a feature reporter in Norfolk, Virginia, was paired with WOUB senior student Anna Azallion. The two talked about Azallion’s job search and Focke offered advice and resumé critiques.

“Joe and I meet on Zoom every week,” said Azallion. “I heard about Joe’s time the industry and all of these different places and positions that he didn’t necessarily think he was going to be in. He gave me great feedback and connected me with other people in the industry to give me feedback. I learned to be ready to go anywhere and do anything.”

“I was so impressed with Anna’s experience,” said Focke. “We talked a lot about networking and how important that is.  It’s been fantastic to be connected to WOUB and Ohio University again like this.”

Mentors Andrew Mulcahey and Kim Kanner were paired with WOUB weather student Nick Snider. Mulcahey works in television and digital advertising at 10 TV in Columbus. Kanner is the crewing supervisor for the Remote Operations Department at ESPN. Snider already had a job lined up in Twin Falls, Idaho, when the mentoring program started, but that just made the advice Mulcahey and Kanner gave him different.

“Making a jump like this to a new city can be scary,” said Mulcahey. “We talked a lot about how to connect and become a part of a new place.”

“Talking with Nick made me think about when I was a student. It’s funny to think back to the things I would stress out over as a student. This experience has made me reflect and think back to where it all started,” said Kanner. “When you work at WOUB, you are instantly connected, whether you knew each other when you worked there, or you were years or decades apart. The connection with Nick was instant, and I know we will be connected for many years to come.”

Mentor Danielle Sills, who is a content producer at CNN, was paired with junior student Zanovia Criss who wants to be a news producer.

“We are kindred spirits,” said Sills. “I’m really glad we were paired up. I plan to watch more of the programs she has produced and give her constructive criticism. I remember what it was like to be a junior, and I hope to be a resource to answer questions.”

“I never had really talked to anyone in the industry before,” said Criss. “It was great to be able to talk about my show headlines and teases, which is something I’m trying to work on. It was nice to get feedback from Danielle because a lot of times I get in my own head, and it’s hard to look at your own show.”

Mentor Sean Balewski is an attorney in Cleveland. He decided to pursue law after graduating from Ohio University and working at WOUB. He was paired with student Julia Howell, who plans to follow a similar path.

“This has been beneficial for me because I really felt alone in my mindset and values until I met my mentor,” said Howell. “I am in circles of people who either want to use their journalism skills to go into the news industry or public relations, which are both great but never what I imagined for myself. My mentor made me feel seen and heard, and I am so lucky to have met him. He made me feel normal that I wanted to use my journalism degree to go further into research and investigation by becoming an attorney and by using my communication skills to create ways to understand complicated governmental and legal processes for all types of people regardless of education.”

Mentor Brooks Jarosz, who works as an investigative reporter in San Francisco, was paired with WOUB sports photography senior student Abigail (Abby) Dean. Even though Dean didn’t want to pursue a career as a reporter, Jarosz and Dean talked about parts of the industry and the job application process that Dean hadn’t thought about before.

“I didn’t have a lot of connections with writing,” said Dean. “He helped me with my cover letter, resume and professional writing. Brooks also looked at my website and helped clue me in to what media executives want to see.  

“Her website was well-done and strong with lots of content,” said Jarosz. “Over email, I provided feedback to help strengthen her webpage. My impression is Abby is a modest person, and she was missing details online about her upbringing, inspiration and what makes her unique. I challenged Abby to add things that describe HER and not simply her work alone.” 

“As a student you feel like you are bothering professionals, so it was really good to have a structured program to connect like this,” said Dean. 

“I think the mentorship program is motivating for those of us who have been away from school for more than a decade,” said Jarosz. “We all remember those mentors who helped us in our early careers, and this is a chance for us to give back and pay it forward.”