By Mike Harris,

APSE Mentorship Chair

Like many things in 2020, the APSE Mentorship Program was stung by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the things the program wanted to see done, such as in-person visits between mentors and mentees, simply weren’t possible.

But also like many things, those in the program found a way to adjust to the new world order COVID-19 forced on us.
Bonds were formed, friendships made, advice was given and the rewards worked both ways.

“The last couple months have been some of the toughest I’ve dealt with in several years in this profession, with layoffs and some medical absences really hurting my already small staff,” said Jake Adams of The Sentinel in Carlisle, Pa., who was paired with Mike Szvetitz of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Mike’s been a big resource to help me with ideas, to walk me through things or to just let me vent to someone who understands. The mentorship program is THE program I hoped to find when I joined APSE five years ago looking to grow in this business, and I’m immensely grateful we finally have it and I can be a part of it.”

To hear Szvetitz tell it, he got just as much out of the deal as a mentor as Adams did.

“The mentorship program has been something that I know I needed during 2020. It’s helped keep me grounded in why I started in this business and why I joined APSE in the first place: to build relationships that make me a better editor,” he said. “I’ve benefited from talking to, working and even venting with Jake on many, many different topics, including, but not limited to, how we navigate the pandemic.

“Mentors don’t have it all figured out, and Jake has helped me put things in perspective as we walked through this unprecedented year together. I’m grateful for being able to build a relationship of trust and accountability through this mentorship program. And it doesn’t stop now that the year is over. I know Jake and I will continue to build each other up through the rest of our careers. I know I have a friend and peer for life. And the fact that we did this in 2020, makes our bond that much stronger.”

The program will continue in 2021 with a few changes. Travel will not be built into the program, since no one can be quite sure when things will be back to normal. But that means there are no budgetary restrictions on how many mentor-mentee pairings we can have.

The four pairings of 2020 are welcome to continue and we hope to have a number of new pairings in 2021. If you are interested in being a mentor or having a mentor, the process is simple: Send a note to APSE president Lisa Wilson (lwilson@theathletic.com) and mentorship chair Mike Harris (mharris@theathletic.com) and we will get you matched with someone. Please submit your requests by Jan. 10, though that isn’t a hard deadline. You want in, we’ll find a way to get you in. 

We hope to have pairings figured out by Jan. 15. Don’t be shy. You may not think you have a lot to offer but you’d be surprised: You do. 

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