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!
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.
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.