Ivette Mendez discovered politics when she was a teenager at Plainfield High School. She became involved in Eugene "Gene" McCarthy's presidential campaign and as one of the "Teens for Gene" held carwashes to "Clean for Gene." Those early days dabbling in the political process helped prepare Ivette for her eventual job as a journalist and later as New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's communications director, a position she held until 2007. Ivette, who was born in Puerto Rico, has since left state government and moved on to an entirely new entrepreneurial challenge, launching latinosnj.com, a website for and about New Jersey's more than 1.5 million Latinos. Ivette offers a bit of career counsel to tomorrow's leaders:
"My best advice to young people is to read. I grew up reading the local paper and the New York Times. I was always addicted to newspapers, even when I was little. They were so big that I would put them on the floor and flip the pages. That interest is part of the reason why I pursued a newspaper journalism career. Find activities at school that relate to your passions. I always worked on the school paper. And find internships that are related to your interests. People are really generous with their knowledge. You won't know if something is a good fit until you try it."