When I was first notified I had made the cut for NPR’s Next Generation Radio project, I was over-the-moon excited. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gives you skills and connections you can take with you for the rest of your life. Then, the work started and I was reminded I was in a professional arena where you need to make every second count.
The first two days of the project had me questioning whether I was not only cut out for this program, but for this career path. My inner saboteur was telling me I didn’t belong or I was just a runner-up. I pushed its loud voice to the side, and I was able to trump my doubts, digging deeper than I probably ever have during this time harnessing my craft.
“No questions are stupid questions,” was a great reminder throughout the project. It’s natural to forget things, because there’s a lot of information. And although everyone feels like your mentor, you will learn that your connection with your dedicated mentor is something truly special. Also, while everyone is here for support, do not forget to fight for your story: You chose it for a reason, the same way you were chosen for a reason.
My interview with Sandra Whitley about her journey opening an LGBTQ+ youth shelter was an eye-opening experience. We often have these images in our heads when we hear words like “homeless” and “shelter.” But actually walking through these spaces and hearing Whitley’s story and the stories of those she has helped was a humbling reminder of how equal we all are as humans. As we move through our lives to chase our dreams, we can forget how fragile they are; they can shatter at any moment and never be rebuilt quite the same.
Cherishing every moment you get to be around people who do what you want to do, or encourage you to follow your passion, is important now more than ever.
Things I would do differently: not suffer in silence. Ask for help when you need it; that’s why your mentor and the rest of the team are there. Also keep in mind that as much as this is a chance to show your work, it’s even more a chance to learn.