By Cynthia Sandoval

“I remember starting the NPR boot camp as if it was just five days ago”

That’s because it did start just five days ago!

That was a total cliché, and believe me, I know better to use those. It was one of the many things I learned at the boot camp: no platitudes!

(right, Jess?)

Selfie with Jess on our tour of 4th Street.

Selfie with Jess on our tour of 4th Street.

Jessica Naudziunas was my very insightful, funny, inspiring and motivating mentor for the week. She taught me more than I can thank her for. She really let me be creative and express my ideas on paper how I wanted. Then we would go through it together and “sculpt” our piece of clay. I liked that she would give me feedback on whether or not she agreed with what I wrote, and tell me why and not just take over and show me how to do it.

One of the biggest lessons I will take away from this past week’s experience is that I have to advocate for myself because no one is going to do it for me.

Whether it be asking someone to edit my paper or getting an interview, I have to find a way to get it done myself and not just depend on others to make it happen.

In the beginning, I was afraid to start the boot camp because I knew I was going to be surrounded by professionals. While that was also super exciting, (especially because my mentor is from The New York Times) it was nerve wracking because I have little experience with journalism. I was scared that I’d lag behind the other students because I thought I was going to need extra help with the equipment. I especially thought I was going to need help with developing a story further than into a feature piece.

Cynthia at the Mic_CFYxHh7VIAAxjZL

This is me pretending to be calm as I do my first ever phone interview.

The interviews were brutal, because, first off, one was a phone interview, and I had never done one before. So, Jessica showed me how and it was different, but less intimidating because the person isn’t in front of you. The second interview was “on-the-go” which I found out I enjoyed because it is not so stiff and you can really be submerged in your story. The only difficult part for me was getting over the nervousness I was having talking to a legit and credible person for my story. However, I felt that throughout the conversation I worked up the courage to ask a few questions (shout out to Jessica for making it less awkward when my mouth would open, but nothing came out).

If five days ago someone told me that I was going to create a four minute story in both Spanish and English, with video content, a print version, and not be stressed out, I would have called bull. For some reason, with this project, although it’s been my hardest piece I’ve ever worked on, it’s been the least stressful. Maybe because I had someone to point me in the right direction. That’s not to say there weren’t moments where I thought I was going to wave my flag and surrender, but I truly enjoyed every bit of it, especially the s’mores we had at dinner!

Thank you NPR boot camp mentors and mentees for helping me fall more in love with journalism.



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