Going into NPR Boot Camp, I didn’t anticipate that I would learn how much I DIDN’T know and how much I already DID know.

Born and raised in Reno, I thought I knew this area pretty well. Well, it turns out I don’t. In the process of looking for my Boot Camp story, I learned about dozens of occupations that I had never even heard of, let alone knew were actual jobs in Reno.  For my Boot Camp story, I found a falconer (someone who trains and hunts with birds of prey) who lives in Reno. Before finding my interview subject, I knew what falconry was, but I had no idea that there were actual Nevadans who bred and trained these amazing creatures. This experience, of learning something completely new in a familiar environment, provided great perspective for me. It also served as a reminder that the saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” is 100 percent valid.

I also discovered that there is a TON I need to learn about reporting techniques and audio editing. When listening back to my interview tape, I realized there were multiple times when I missed an opportunity to ask a follow-up question or clarify an answer. I know getting this process down takes practice, but Boot Camp served as a huge reminder of this for me.

With audio editing, I had no idea how nuanced the entire process is. In many aspects, knowing what to listen for in an audio track is like music; if you’re untrained, many sounds and errors pass you by. Now that I know what to look for, I will be able to make my audio mixes much cleaner when I intern for Reno Public Radio this summer.

Everyone knows that it is important to be confident, but NPR Boot Camp has also taught me that confidence is sometimes the only missing ingredient beginning journalists need.

The first day of boot camp, I went out to gather my materials with my mentor, Kate McGee. I’m always “on edge” when I go out reporting, but on this day I was especially nervous because I was working with a professional journalist. After three hours of interviewing, collecting sound and taking photos, I came to a realization: confidence was the main thing I was missing at the start of the day.

Once we got to the interview site, I quickly understood that I needed to be decisive about what I wanted from my interview subject. When I did this, everything went smoothly. When I made a conscious effort to be confident, there was no difference in my comfort level when working with a professional journalist and when working with a fellow student.

I also realized that I have the skills needed to deliver a full, in-depth audio story, I just need to trust myself and relax into the complexities of the reporting process. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, a lot of the time, I DO know what I’m doing.

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