I feel extremely fortunate to have been accepted into this year’s #NextGenRadio project. When I first heard of the Next Generation Radio bootcamp, it immediately became a goal that I needed to conquer.  I applied last year, being my first semester in the J-school, and even though my dreams were semi-shattered when I didn’t get a spot, I used that first attempt to step up my work over the next year so that I could apply again.

So when I applied and landed a spot in this years bootcamp, I was ecstatic, to say the least.

Knowing that Next Generation was not only a great place to learn and later hone in on technical skills, I knew from the constant Slack feed that this program really does have the connections an aspiring journalist needs to get her first step into the field, for those students who are willing to put in the work. The number of alumni mentioned that were onto bigger and better things was a constant reminder of how integral this bootcamp was for my journalism career.

Throughout my journalism schooling career, I’ve done 99% of my work alone, making up a haphazard process for creating different types of work and pretending to be as organized as possible. On our first day, the Blueprint put me and my ideas for the story in check, making me think more deeply about the impact I wanted this piece to have on its audience. Although daunting at first, because there’s nothing like a gigantic stopwatch looming in your peripheral, I realized how much a tool like the Blueprint helps see the vision with story pitches.

I was really nervous about the outcome of my interview, way before it ever happened. I was afraid I wouldn’t ask the right questions, enough of them, or that I wouldn’t skim deeper than surface level within the conversation.  As I said before, I’ve worked solo on most of my projects, so having my mentor Mariana Dale with me was both intimidating (only at first!) but so helpful, and in the long run, extremely necessary for me to learn how I should be producing a piece to NPR’s standards.

Mariana was so incredibly patient with me, especially when it came time to shooting my standup for this piece (I thought it would be a one-and-done thing, but when the wind, sun, and brain fog hit, it ended up being over an hour to get it right). When I wasn’t sure how far to push a sensitive topic during the interview, Mariana approached the questions with such grace and taught me interviewing skills that will be beneficial when interviewing other people in the future.

Overall this week, I learned a lot- but holding a mic while taking notes, checking audio levels, and sitting completely still and silent- this is something I have yet to master.