By: Morgan Kuehler

I have some perfectionist tendencies. Often times when I meet new people, I feel like it’s my job to make sure that the other person comes away from the interaction liking me and thinking I’m talented. I walked into NPR’s Next Generation Radio program with the same agenda. I knew the staff members were the ones who could help me get where I want to go in my career. 

In reality, I didn’t walk into a room full of people I needed to win over. Instead, I became a part of a group that is passionate about telling stories. It’s a group that celebrates young, ambitious journalists like me. I didn’t need to do anything for them but show up ready to learn and work hard. 

I don’t always take criticism well because it normally gets right at my feelings of inadequacy, but all the scrutiny in this program (don’t worry, there’s plenty) is given with the reminder that we were working in a learning environment and things weren’t always going to be perfect. I can’t begin to explain how meaningful that is for me. I’ve always known that when my work gets critiqued it was the work getting critiqued, not me, but I didn’t ever feel that way. I can credit the mentors with helping me work toward becoming a journalist who can take criticism for what it is   — genuine, helpful advice. 

NextGen taught me that I don’t have to be a one-woman island. That it’s okay to ask for help, to delegate, and to make mistakes. Also, there are people out there who care and want me to be successful. I know myself well enough to know that these are lessons I’m going to have to continually re-learn, but I also know I will always remember the people at NextGen who helped me be the journalist and person I am. 

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