“I get to travel and understand local realities and I feel like my work is helping to improve the lives of others.”
This interview is part of the IPF’s Careers section, which has been designed to offer young people advice on breaking into the media, development and charity sectors.
Having noticed that there is a gap in peer-to-peer career advice and mentorship, we launched this Spotlight On… series. Here, the IPF spotlights young people in the early years of their careers in journalism, charities, and development-related fields with the aim of having them provide first-hand, relevant and genuinely useful information for young people looking to break into similar industries.
In this edition, we spotlight Diego Mosquera Soto, a freelance media professional working with the Inter-American Development Bank.
Diego Mosquera Soto, 24, Development Media Professional
Can you tell us about your current role working freelance on global media projects?
As a freelancer, I support international organisations’ communications projects in Latin America with visual design, audio-visual content and web products.
My clients are mostly international development organisations. I create media content and work on web development projects, and less frequently I work with commercial companies. Before I went freelance, I was working as a filmmaker doing public television in Colombia – I built up my experience through making documentary films in Colombia. Understanding social issues has always been a key driver in my career.
I deeply believe that we can provide a better world for everyone and media represents an important ally for providing social and sustainable economic development around the globe.
For the last three years I have been supporting the Inter-American Development Bank.
My work changes on a daily basis but being up to date on current geopolitics is really important for my job.
Keeping up with the latest news and regional legislative trends develops my knowledge and it helps me understand the reason international development organisations are trying to implement the projects I work on. As a media professional, I make films, animated videos, graphic design material and do web development projects to effectively support the communication strategies of the different efforts that are being implemented.
How did you begin your career and build up your media skills?
A few years ago, after finishing my undergraduate degree, I attended an interview in Washington D.C. when I was living in the United States for a Webmaster role. At the time, they were considering hiring an in-house developer for a regional education project.
I didn’t get the job but an assistant kept my resumé on his desk. Three months later they were looking for a freelance video editor and they called me. Since then I have been working with different sectors of the International Development Bank.
My media skills and the trust we have built up during the last three years makes me a reliable person for their projects.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I always felt a strong sense of social responsibility and this is the reason felt in love with documentary film making early on.
In 2012, while I was still doing my undergraduate degree, I had the chance to work on a documentary film commissioned by Al Jazeera. This experience gave me the chance to work hand-in-hand with experienced filmmakers and helped me develop confidence in my skills.
I still work on small documentary projects but my main activity is supporting the Inter-American Development Bank. Having the chance to support international organisations is rewarding and exciting. as part of what I do, I also travel around Latin America to make films. You feel that your work has the possibility to improve the lives of millions of people in Latin America.
What are the best and worst parts of working on freelance projects?
The best part of my role is that I get to travel and understand local realities and I feel like my work is helping to improve the lives of others.
However, economic instability can be an issue as I never know when the next big project is coming.
Also the projects often have very tight deadlines and often require last minute changes which can be stressful.
What advice would you give to young people seeking to start a freelance media career?
Always set high standards for every project you develop. Being a freelancer also requires basic administrative and negotiation skills. Depending on the scope of the project, you will have to know how to manage your time and resources to accomplish tight deadlines.
Use your time at university to be part of every project you can and try to establish good relations with your professors as they can recommend you for an eventual job. And never forget – social skills are as important as the technical ones acquired by training.
What are your future goals?
Currently, I’m planning to use the knowledge I acquired during my MA degree to keep working in social and economic development, but focused on my particular area of interest – cultural industries.
Along with a colleague from SOAS, I’m also developing a platform called MyanmaSara, which aims to collate Myanmar’s development debates. In the near future I see myself committed to social development with this platform!
To find out more about the IPF‘s Careers section or to seek advice on breaking into your first job, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.