By Logan Soter-Reardon, FN alum '21
The FUTURE NOW Mentoring Program pairs selected mentee applicants from among FUTURE NOW alumni with an experienced mentor to help guide them to success. The nine-month program plays a vital role in the personal and professional growth and development of future industry leaders.
Jennifer Zaurov, a dual MBA student at Pace University, is one of the twenty applicants chosen to be in the 2021-2022 cohort. She was paired with Gennifer Birnbach, an award-winning marketing copywriter and branding consultant, who worked for companies like Viacom, Oxygen Media, and NBCUniversal before starting her own company, Gennifer with a G.
Over the past few months, the two have developed SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and anchored within a Time Frame—to help further Zaurov’s career in media. According to Birnbach, managing one’s personal development is just as crucial to one’s success as advancing one’s profession.
“As a mentee, you come in, hoping someone’s going to give you the magic recipe of how to get your great job or your promotion,” she said. “No matter what it is that you’re striving for in your career, it always ends up coming back to your internal peace and clarity.”
Zaurov, a first-generation American, says her SMART goals have led her to new locations, opened her eyes to new career options, and have helped her with the anxiety that comes with beginning your professional journey.
“Something that we’re learning is instead of me thinking ‘This is how we do things,’ is building my own path,” Zaurov said. “It’s not one certain path or everything blows up. You can take so many different things and have so many different passions and not let other people limit you in what you want to do.”
Zaurov says her goals during the program have been evolving as her personal and professional life has been growing. Being flexible with her goals has actually helped her keep things on track, and having a mentor through the process has made an enormous difference.
“Sometimes it takes a mentor to see things from a different perspective and tell you ‘Hey, you’re doing well in these areas, but you could improve in the others,’” Zaurov said. “You’re not gonna see it until someone points it out, and I appreciate just honesty in that way.”
For Birnbach, she says one of the most important aspects when creating goals is to be unabashed and to base them on what you truly want to do.
“Dream big, there’s nothing stopping you except you,” Birnbach said. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Zaurov said she used to be more worried when her career growth wasn’t going as planned. The Mentoring Program has taught her to be patient and to take everything as it comes.
“The thing that I’ve most learned is to take things slow,” Zaurov said. “Really enjoy those passions, figure out what it is you like about that passion, and don’t pressure yourself.”
Both Zaurov and Birnbach say they have learned valuable things from each other throughout the Mentoring Program.
“It’s not just me guiding her, but it’s a mutual exchange of encouragement, intelligent dialogue or inspiration,” Birnbach said.
“You come in with a mentor, you expect it sort of to be through a screen, buttoned up, kind of scared to speak with someone, but I just honestly think it’s like a therapy session,” Zaurov said. “The realizations just keep flowing and flowing.”
The fourth cohort of the FUTURE NOW Mentoring Program will begin in September 2022. Applications will open in June. To be eligible, you must be an alumnus / alumna of the FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference.
So, if you haven’t experienced the conference yet, go to , and apply now; deadline is March 1. This is a not to miss event and a pathway to access to the Mentoring Program and much more.