Short-term challenges, long-term goals
Mentor program came right as Carlene Cox transitioned into new role
Carlene Cox says her NEX GEN experience was less structured than most because her mentor was in the same city. That made getting together easier, which became important when she changed jobs.
Cox, 34, was director of newsroom development at GateHouse Media in Austin, Texas, when she was accepted into SNPA's mentoring program. At the time, she knew a job change was possible within the GateHouse corporate structure, but the specifics were still being worked out.
Ultimately, she was named director of specialty content.
Cox is especially grateful to have been paired with Steve Dorsey, vice president/innovation and planning at the Austin American-Statesman. She said Dorsey provided good advice for her old job and her new one.
"It was a drastic departure from my old role. There were plenty of times that I was calling or emailing my mentor with questions or just for confirmation of a decision that I was making," she said. "I think in those first few months it was really beneficial to have that resource."
Although she now works closely with ad reps and their clients, Cox continues to focus on content. "I run the native accounts on the content side. I also work with our content verticals," she said.
Cox grew up in Palmyra, N.Y., which is near Rochester. She began freelancing for her hometown newspaper at age 16 and began working at the Tonawanda News while attending Buffalo State College.
While working for a group of weeklies in the suburbs of Chicago, she participated in an internal leadership program that led her to a position as executive editor for GateHouse Media's Delaware group. Then she was recruited to return to Chicago to work for GateHouse's corporate office there. From Chicago, it was on to Austin.
Cox credits Dorsey for not only helping her with short-term issues but with encouraging her to take a long view of her career. While NEX GEN is structured to include regular phone conversations and a visit to another newspaper, being in the same town created more opportunities for regular contact.
"We got together several times. Steve actually invited me to a couple of events that he was invited to that were just great networking opportunities for me," Cox said.
Cox encourages people to apply to NEX GEN and, even if they are not accepted, to find their own mentors.
"I think I ask better questions now, and I'm more thoughtful about the longevity of my career," she said. "Instead of thinking about the role that I want next, [NEX GEN] got me to think about the role that I want five years from now, and how my next role can help me evolve toward that."
SNPA will invite applications this summer for the NEX GEN Class of 2018-19.
Watch for additional interviews with members of the 2016-17 NEX GEN Class in upcoming issues of the eBulletin.
Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggestions for future stories and comments on this piece are welcomed.