How the unexpected has confirmed my life’s passion

When I first heard about NPR’s NextGenRadio from a college mentor, she sent the application with a kind, yet daring message: “This crazy time is the perfect time to try new things. What have you got to lose?”

My budding journalism career, prior to this opportunity, was primarily focused in print journalism – and the audio aspect of this project made me nervous.. But it only took a quick scroll through the website, a few minutes of deliberation and one moment of pure, undiluted curiosity for me to hit the submit button. 

This year has already proven to be a year of the unexpected. Personally, it was a year where I was supposed to have a graduation ceremony, travel and go to numerous concerts. Perhaps my experience with NextGenRadio falls into this category as well – unexpected. But in a far more positive way. 

Since I’ve graduated, I’ve felt like I’ve been awfully idle. I do best when I’m busy, and going from editing and writing every day to not at all left me feeling dejected and unsure of myself.  And NextGenRadio gave me the opportunity to do the two things I love the most: report and learn.

My biggest learning experience was working with Adobe Audition and conducting an interview remotely – both challenging. It was so insightful to learn about audio editing, and after some time, I even felt like I could do the basics with ease. 

The idle feeling disappeared effortlessly as I immersed myself into storytelling. It’s not until I sat down to write this final reflection that I realized what was my biggest takeaway from this experience: being a storyteller makes me feel alive. NextGenRadio was the life vest, as I drowned in a post-grad slump.

This project reminded me that while circumstances are uncertain, I am still the person I was pre-graduation: someone who loves to write, share stories and let the music play. 

I am incredibly thankful to have been included in this program, and I couldn’t have done it without the dedicated team of editors and engineers who taught me so many invaluable lessons. Special thanks to my mentor, Jon Reed, for helping me bring my piece to life and guiding me every step along the way. 

I’m happy to report: I didn’t lose anything. In fact, I gained a lot. 

By Palak Jayswal

Palak Jayswal is a recent University of Utah graduate and aspiring music journalist. She loves all things arts and was the arts editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle, where she wrote more than 150 articles. Her true passion is pop culture and music. She aspires to write for a publication like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, or Pitchfork one day and to interview as many musicians as possible.

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